Month Archives: August 2011

Adult Stem Cells Safe and Feasible for Stroke Patients

by David Prentice

August 31, 2011

Adult stem cells are safe as well as feasible for treatment of stroke in patients, according to the published results of a ground-breaking Phase I trial from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Looking at ten patients in this first study, the researchers found no study-related severe adverse events, and while the study was not designed to determine effectiveness, the team found that most of the patients did better compared with matched untreated patients.

Dr. Sean Savitz, first author, said:

In order to bring stem cells forward as a potential new treatment for stroke patients, we have to establish safety first and this study provides the first evidence in addressing that goal. Now we are conducting two other stroke cell therapy studies examining safety and efficacy, one of which can be administered up to 19 days after someone has suffered a stroke.

Results of the study were published in the journal Annals of Neurology.

More on the Obama Regulation Tsunami (and Gibson Guitars)

by Chris Gacek

August 31, 2011

Fortunately, last weeks earthquake near Richmond was incapable of producing a damaging tidal wave. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Washingtons massive bureaucracies and, most specifically, the Environmental Protection Agency.

According to House Speaker John Boehner, the Obama Administration has a regulatory agenda that includes at least 219 new rules that could each impose a regulatory burden of 100 million dollars or more. Such rules are called major rules. (See David Boyers article in the 8/31/11 Washington Times.) Also, EPA is going ahead with seven rulemakings that the agency estimates will together cost over $125 billion (with a b) annually yes that is annually. (See Conn Carrolls story in the 8/30/11 Washington Examiner.)

 

According to an editorial in todays Wall Street Journal (behind its pay firewall), Speaker Boehner asked the administration for a list of rules it had in the works with potential costs exceeding one billion dollars per year. The administration responded providing a list of seven rulemakings four from EPA and three from the Department of Transportation.

Speaker Boehners overarching point was that the economy cannot withstand the barrage of major new federal regulations planned by the administration. Of course, the Obamacare and financial industry regulations are also on the drawing board somewhere.

Mark Levin had an excellent commentary on our state affairs at the beginning of his 8/30 broadcast. He believes that we no longer have a representative republic. This condition exists in large measure, Levin argues, due to unchecked regulation. He also thinks that we now have an Imperial Presidency.

That said, Levin later gave a boldface example.

Listen to the absolutely chilling interview Levin conducts with the CEO of Gibson Guitar who was raided on 8/24/11 by federal agents. (Start at minute 92:00.) Here is John Haywards Human Events background article. The federal government claims that Gibson is illegally importing wood to make its guitars from India and Madagascar. Gibson claims that officials from those countries have certified the legality of these exports from their nations. Additionally, Gibsons competitors apparently use the same woods from the same sources and have not been raided. Only time will tell how this will turn out, but this iconic company may not be able to survive the legal costs of fighting a criminal investigation while its productive activities are interrupted.

Faith and Liberalism in the news

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 30, 2011

There are no less than eight stories dealing with the religious beliefs of President Obama and his Republican challengers on RealClearReligion today. By historical standards, this is extraordinary: In no previous election season have the faith-related convictions of presidential candidates been so scrutinized.

The scrutiny comes primarily from a secular media mystified, and in some cases, plain disturbed, by the notion that personal faith might affect public policy decisions. In a much-discussed op-ed, New York Times Executive editor Bill Keller claims that “Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are both affiliated with fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity and Rick Santorum comes out of the most conservative wing of Catholicism which has raised concerns about their respect for the separation of church and state, not to mention the separation of fact and fiction.”

Fervid subsets?” Does Keller envision Mrs. Bachmann handling rattlers, or Gov. Perry levitating? “Raised concerns” where, and who has raised them? Certain residents of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, whose understanding of the role of faith in American life is defined not by experience but the occasional PBS documentary? Certainly, if a politician claims to hear audibly the voice of God and asserts divine direction for highly specific policies (e.g., liberal Democrat Woodrow Wilson’s astounding comment that to oppose U.S. entry into the League of Nations was to oppose God), any reasonable person - believer or non-believer - would be justified in feeling uneasy. Yet to assert, as Keller does, that the faith of a Bachmann, a Perry, or a Santorum might be “a Trojan horse for a sect that believes it has divine instructions on how we should be governed” is both to mis-comprehend orthodox Christian faith and also to disparage the beliefs of most of one’s fellow countrymen.

Perhaps Mr. Keller and his jittery colleagues in the Fourth Estate should reflect on something then-Sen. Barack Obama said in a speech in 2006:

Americans are a religious people. 90 percent of us believe in God, 70 percent affiliate themselves with an organized religion, 38 percent call themselves committed Christians … the discomfort of some progressives with any hint of religion has often prevented us from effectively addressing issues in moral terms. Some of the problem here is rhetorical if we scrub language of all religious content, we forfeit the imagery and terminology through which millions of Americans understand both their personal morality and social justice … to say that men and women should not inject their ‘personal morality’ into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

I agree, for the most part; however, the discomfort of liberals with religion goes beyond the scrubbing of language. It goes to the heart of one’s philosophical basis for life itself: Is there, or is there not, an infinite but personal God who has communicated truth in understandable ways to human beings? Christians say yes; the irreligious cultural elite would say, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

In 2004, then-Times ombudsman Daniel Okrent - a liberal with an honest conscience - penned these lines about the Gray Lady; they could have been written about much of the “mainstream” press and, much more so, the shrill complainers of Left-wing blog sites and editorial commentary generally: “Is the New York Times a liberal paper? Of course it is … These are the social issues: gay rights, gun control, abortion and environmental regulation, among others. And if you think The Times plays it down the middle on any of them, you’ve been reading the paper with your eyes closed. But if you’re examining the paper’s coverage of these subjects from a perspective that is neither urban nor Northeastern nor culturally seen-it-all; if you are among the groups The Times treats as strange objects to be examined on a laboratory slide (devout Catholics, gun owners, Orthodox Jews, Texans); if your value system wouldn’t wear well on a composite New York Times journalist, then a walk through this paper can make you feel you’re traveling in a strange and forbidding world. Start with the editorial page, so thoroughly saturated in liberal theology that when it occasionally strays from that point of view the shocked yelps from the left overwhelm even the ceaseless rumble of disapproval from the right.”

In his second inaugural address, which is more of a meditation on the sovereignty and justice of God than a political speech, Abraham Lincoln observed, “if God wills that (the Civil War) continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether’.”

In 1865, the New York Times praised Lincoln’s speech for its “calmness, its modesty, its reserve,” and said, “We have a President who will be faithful to the end.” What would Mr. Keller say of them, and of Lincoln himself, today?

Some Positive News about Indianas New School Voucher Program

by Chris Gacek

August 30, 2011

According to an AP story by Tom Coyne,Indianas new educational reform law appears to be producing good effects in only its first year:

Weeks after Indiana began the nation’s broadest school voucher program, thousands of students have transferred from public to private schools, causing a spike in enrollment at some Catholic institutions that were only recently on the brink of closing for lack of pupils.

In this, the first year under the new law, more than 3,200 students are receiving vouchers to attend private schools.

The article gives some interesting facts about Our Lady of Hungary Catholic School in South Bend. It was being considered for closure, but is now being revived as some parents flee the local public schools and the schools enrollment swells.

Of course, the unions and the religionphobes are apoplectic. Hopefully, as the program expands in future years, as set forth in the statute, Indiana voters and the rest of the nation will understand why voting by exiting a bad school is much more potent than voting in a school board election in which there is really only one choice.

 

U.S. Air Forces Imperiled by Potential Budget Cuts

by Chris Gacek

August 29, 2011

The Washington Times published an important op-ed about national security today by Brig. Gen. Thomas C. Pinckney (USAF, Ret.) who argued that mandatory budget cuts from a supercommittee deadlock would excessively cut spending on Americas next generation fighter, the F-35. Pinckney makes the correct point that American military success since Vietnam has depended greatly on air superiority and fighter dominance in our diverse wars. He talks about how our fighter fleet is aging and many countries are beginning to catch up. Here are two stunning paragraphs:

Today, countries including Iran, North Korea and Pakistan have fighter jets that match the capabilities of the workhorses of the U.S. fighter fleet, which were designed during the 1970s. The Indian air force surprised many by defeating American fighters during recent war games. Russia and China are developing fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft that will rival our most advanced fighter jets.

Even small countries can create a formidable air force on the cheap by buying Soviet-made MiG-21s on the global weapons market for the low cost of $100,000 each, upgrading the engines and avionics and outfitting them with self-guided missiles. Coupled with ever-more sophisticated anti-aircraft batteries, determined despots the world over could soon be capable of shooting down any American fighter jet that dares enter their airspace.

I hadnt heard about the war games with India. I find it alarming that we would lose war games to any nation, but India is not known for being a military titan. I guess it is changing with China so close, but this is not an encouraging sign.

Americas military families give us their best, and they deserve our best. We are spending nothing like the share of GDP that we did on defense during the Cold War, we can afford to purchase air superiority for our air, sea, and land forces. And, while we are at it lets bring the F-22.

 

Meet the Co-Parents: Friends Not Lovers

by Cathy Ruse

August 29, 2011

A few years ago the New York Times ran a story about a new social phenomenon: Couples, who claim to love each other, who have an exclusive sexual relationship, and who share financial expenses, are choosing not to live together. The arrangement is called Living Apart Together, and apparently its on the rise. The couples interviewed spoke of their need for alone time and personal space and a desire not to wait on the other person they claim to love. Why bother joining households and lose a great city apartment? one suggested.

Reading that story brought to mind how Woody Allen once described the perfect arrangement he had with Mia Farrow: separate apartments on opposite sides of Central Park where they could see each others lights go off at night. But we know how that ended. (For those too young to remember: Woody ended up having an affair with, and then marrying, his own stepdaughter, and in his defense famously said, The heart wants what the heart wants.)

Last week the London Telegraph reviewed another new social relationship trend: people who are neither married nor in love (nor, in some cases, even acquainted) are apparently having children together through the use of in vitro fertilization. Why?

The story leads with examples of homosexuals who wanted to have a child of their own partnering up with people of the opposite sex to share biological material. But also interviewed was this single heterosexual woman, approaching the end of her fertile years, who explained: In a worst-case scenario I would seek an anonymous donor, but Ive always thought a child needs a father. At the very least I wanted a donor who would visit regularly.

What kid wouldnt want Daddy Sperm visiting regularly? But why does little Johnny hide under the bed when the door bell rings?

Adult Stem Cell Transplant Might Increase Cancer Resistance

by David Prentice

August 26, 2011

Adding a specific gene to adult stem cells from bone marrow might be used to increase cancer resistance of transplant patients. A University of Kentucky team led by Dr. Vivek Rangnekar studied bone marrow adult stem cells from mice, that were genetically engineered to express a cancer-killing portion of a protein known as Par-4. Par-4 is a “tumor suppressor” protein that selectively induces cellular suicide (known as “apoptosis”) in cancer cells, but not normal cells. The scientists found that the mice were resistant to the growth of various types of tumors. Further, the cancer resistance could be transferred to other, normal mice by a bone marrow adult stem cell transplant. The scientists said that optimizing the adult stem cell transplant of genetically modified cells might be used to treat various tumors, including metastatic tumors.

The study was published in the journal Cancer Biology & Therapy.

Carpooling with George Washington

by Robert Morrison

August 26, 2011

Commuting to Washington, D.C. can be nerve-wracking on the best of days. But when the hour-long commute drags on for more than two hoursas it did this week on the day of our earthquakeit might be especially trying. Motorists are not happy campers when traffic approaches gridlock downtown in the Capitol.

I go slightly out of my way, however, to drive daily down Pennsylvania Avenue. I count it a privilege to pass by the stately Capitol dome with its Statue of Freedom standing proudly on top. The Capitol was planned by George Washington. Hard to believe now, but there were no great domed buildings in America when His Excellency opted for a Roman architectural style. His favorite play was Cato, an English tragedy about a great Roman champion of republican virtue.

As trying as the drive on earthquake Tuesday might have been, the way was eased by my carpooling with George Washington. Ive been listening to Ron Chernows Pulitzer Prize-winning book-on-disk, George Washington: A Life. Its a wonderful book and the latest of some seven hundred Ive been able to read during fifteen years of commuting.

Chernows Washington is a full-blooded figure. He has faults, to be sure, but his virtues shine forth. Chernow describes Washingtons incredible bravery. Young Col. Washington dashes into the teeth of battle during the French & Indian War. He even rushes into a hail of bullets, slashing with his sword against the muskets of British regulars to keep them from shooting their allies, the heroic Virginia militiamen.

Washington studiously avoids all boasting of his military exploits, but in a private letter to his brother Jackie, he notes that he had two horses shot out from under him on the Pennsylvania frontier and four bullet holes in his coat following the 1755 battle that left nearly 700 British and Virginia militiamen dead. It was the worst defeat British arms had suffered in the history of North America. Washington organized the retreat after the death of Gen. Edward Braddock. He even ordered his wagons to drive over Braddocks grave so that Indians would not find it and desecrate the body.

Ron Chernow follows Washingtons life where the evidence leads. We wince when we read that the young Washington sold recalcitrant slaves for shipment to the West Indies. Thats where the expression sold down the river comes from. And its terrible to read that he hanged two deserters from his Virginia militia company. Washington was a stern taskmaster. He expected to be obeyed. But everyone respected him for his justice and growing humanity.

Chernow gives us Washingtons religious views. You would not find him leading prayers, as Gov. Rick Perry recently did. But neither would he spurn public expressions of fidelity and duty to God.

Chernow writes:

However ecumenical in his approach to religion, Washington never doubted its signal importance in a republic, regarding it as the basis of morality and the foundation of any well-ordered polity…For Washington, morality was so central to Christianitys message that no man who is profligate in his morals or a bad member of the civil community can possibly be a true Christian.

If Washingtons constant suspicion that he is being cheated is a character flaw, it is mightily tempered by seeing what Washington did with his vast wealth.

George and Martha Washington never turned away beggars at their doorstep. Let no one go away hungry…provided it does not encourage them in idleness.

Who would have thought George Washington was the original compassionate conservative? FRC has been highlighting Real Compassion on our website to show how

Christians can make a difference in their own communities. The German poet Goethe, a Washington contemporary, once said that if each one sweeps his own doorstep, the world would be clean.

Washington spent countless hours as a Vestryman for Christ Church, in Alexandria, and for Truro parish in Fairfax. In those times, the Vestry was the committee of Christian laymen who looked after widows and orphans, who helped the indigent get back on their feet. But they were expected to get back on their feet. It was no charity to keep them dependent and subordinate.

During the great welfare reform fight in Washington of 1994-1996, former radical Adam Walinsky came to FRC. This ex-speechwriter for Robert Kennedy said he didnt agree with most of our social agenda, but he did agree with us on welfare reform. If you dont think welfare harms the morals of a family, just consider the English royal family.

Thats a stunner. George Washington considered the English royal family, too. He found it increasingly difficult to pledge his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor to the English royals who governed so foolishly and were so careless of their American colonists rights and liberties.

Washington chafed at British royal red tape. He hated the Proclamation of 1763 that declared the Trans-Appalachian West off limits to colonial expansion. King George III had not risked his regal neck fighting on that frontier. Who was he to bar settlement of it?

Washington also denounced British mercantile regulations. In his efforts to reduce his dependence on slave labor, Washington began growing wheat at Mount Vernon and marketing fish. He created a small fishing fleet on the Potomac. The best salt for preserving fish came from Lisbon, Portugal, but British regulations forced him to buy inferior salt from Liverpool.

Ill join with my conservative friends in denouncing federal intrusions and usurpations. We dont need, for example, a wasteful and unconstitutional federal education department. But youll never see me denouncing Washington. I have too much reverence for our Founding Father for that.

Ron Chernows book is 903 pages long. The audio version is 33 discs long. I expect to be carpooling with George Washington for weeks to come. Im honored to be in his company

Adult Stem Cells Against Stress and Depression

by David Prentice

August 26, 2011

Stress can stimulate production of new adult neural stem cells. An area of the brain known as the hippocampus responds to environmental conditions, including stress such as being held in isolation, and produces new neural stem cells that are stockpiled for later use. As conditions become more favorable, such as being moved to an enriched environment with various stimuli, the neural stem cells can be used to produce new brain neurons. The new study, published in the journal Neuron, shows that adult stem cell production in the brain is responsive to experience and the environment, indicating that this may act as a form of cellular plasticity for adapting to environmental changes.

A new paper published in the journal Nature further suggests that if those stored neural adult stem cells are not used to produce new neurons, you could be more susceptible to depression. NIH researchers found that new neurons formed by adult stem cells in the brain could protect against depression and stress in a mouse model. However, mice that could not form new neurons had elevated levels of stress hormones and showed more depressive behaviors. The authors note that their results provide evidence to support a direct role for adult neuron formation in depressive illness.

Optimism May Lower Stroke Risk

by David Prentice

August 26, 2011

Think positive, Eeyore! Optimism may lower the risk of stroke. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. The study published in the journal Stroke, looked at 6,044 adults over the age of 50, and correlated their self-reported optimism with a decrease in acute stroke risk over a two-year period. For every point increase on a standard cognitive test for optimism (a 16-point scale), stroke risk decreased by 9 percent.

The researchers note that the protective effect of optimism may be due to behavioral choices, such as taking vitamins, eating a healthy diet and exercising, but some evidence suggests positive thinking might have a strictly biological impact as well. Previous research has shown that an optimistic attitude is associated with better heart health outcomes and enhanced immune-system functioning, among other positive effects.

After a stroke, keep a positive attitude as well. Promising early results have been seen using adult stem cells to treat stroke.

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