FRC Blog

The Shame of the City

by Robert Morrison

October 2, 2009

Wednesday night, the Empire State Building in Manhattan shone red and yellow as a tribute to the sixtieth anniversary of the Communist takeover of China.

When lit, the Empire State is a lovely sight. Yet last nights display cast a rather ugly glow. Why? Because given the nation it is honoring, we must ask the sponsors of this celebration which highlights of Chinas history during those sixty years they especially want to honor.

Might it be the murder of Christian missionaries in the late 40s and 50s? How about the killing of millions of Chinese during Chairman Maos Great Leap Forward campaign of the mid-fifties? During those years, Communist authorities pressed rural Chinese to modernize, demanding such insanities as backyard steel mills.

China enveloped Tibet in the late 50s. That ancient Buddhist land is still being suppressed and its unique culture eradicated fifty years later. The Dalai Lama and many other Tibetans still live in exile.

In the mid-60s, Chairman Mao initiated the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution which left more millions dead. Fanatical Red Guards beat and brutalized anyone who had exposure to Western Cultureand even trashed Chinas revered cultural heritage.

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What Would LUTHER Do?

by Jeremiah G. Dys

October 1, 2009

Still stinging from a strong debate among ELCA pastors this summer, The Rev. Dr. Ralph W. Dunkin pushes to move his synod beyond the controversial topic and offer some reasons of support for the work of the ELCA. He begins:

The major news coming from the 2009 Evangelical Lutheran Church in Americas biennial Churchwide Assembly has been the change in policy related to persons in gay and lesbian relationships. The policy change allows congregations to determine for themselves if they wish to offer blessings of same-gender relationships and if they are open to calling a pastor who is in a same-gender relationship.

But, he then moves quickly past the issue, noting the ELCAs broad partnership of full communion with, the Reformed Church, The UCC, the Presbyterian Church USA, the Moravians, The Episcopal Church and now the United Methodist Church. Interestingly, each of these denominations have taken similar measures as the ELCA did this summer.

The point, the Rev. Dr. Dunkin is trying to make is that, regardless of the controversy, the ELCA is still doing some incredible things and, implicitly, the vote to ordain practicing homosexuals not only doesnt affect their overall ministry, but actually may improve their ability to link with others in an effort to do good deeds to this world.

Yet, the Rev. Dr. Dunkin fails to address a fundamental point vis-a-vis the recent ELCA vote: What would LUTHER do?

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In the Know…

by Krystle Gabele

October 1, 2009

Here’s some articles of interest this morning.

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Adult Stem Cells for ALS

by David Prentice

September 30, 2009

In the news recently was the FDA approval of a clinical trial for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis; Lou Gehrig’s disease) by the company NeuralStem. Actually, the recent news was release of the FDA hold on the trial; the FDA hold was placed on the trial back on 20 Feb 2009. NeuralStem uses immature, fetal neural stem cells. The hold was placed soon after news broke about an Israeli boy who developed tumors, four years after receiving fetal stem cells. Fetal stem cell “overgrowth” has been a problem before with other attempts, e.g. experiments at using fetal neural cells in Parkinson patients (published ref from 2001, also see refs from 2003 and 1996.)

All of the recent NeuralStem stories talk about this fetal stem cell experiment being the “first” stem cell trial for ALS. Apparently no one is aware of the adult stem cell literature, only fetal and embryonic.

Italian scientists Mazzini and Fagioli have already done several clinical trials using adult mesenchymal stem cells, with promising results. Their published results include success with adult stem cells in pre-clinical animal studies, and clinical trial results published in 2006, in 2008, and in 2009, as well as a recent review paper on the subject. The real hope for patients comes from adult stem cells.

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In the Know…

by Krystle Gabele

September 30, 2009

Here’s some articles of interest.

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Adult Stem Cells Get Hip

by David Prentice

September 29, 2009

Doctors in Southampton, England have successfully used adult stem cells to repair hip bones, allowing patients to avoid hip replacement surgery. After removing dead tissue in the hip, the cavity is filled with bits of ground up bone and the patient’s own adult stem cells. So far six patients have had the treatment with only one failure, doctors said.

Carl Millard, who had the adult stem cell procedure, said he could walk normally and without any pain. Millard’s surgeon said his bone would have collapsed without the stem cell treatment, requiring an artificial hip joint. Prof. Richard Oreffo leads the team developing the adult stem cell technique.

Adult stem cells have been used by other doctors to heal non-healing fractures and allow patients to walk again.

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In The Stem Cell Vein and Other Stories

by David Prentice

September 29, 2009

Catching up with a few brief stories.

In The Stem Cell Vein

Adult stem cells from bone marrow have been used to reverse a rare genetic disease. Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute used a mouse model of cystinosis, a genetic disease that can afflict children as young as six months old, causes deteriorating kidney function and inevitable kidney failure. Stephanie Cherqui, the scientist who developed the mouse model, said that adult bone marrow stem cell therapy is particularly well suited as a potential treatment for cystinosis because these cells target all types of tissues, and also reside in the bone marrow for the duration of a patient’s life.

Scientists at the Hohenstein Institute have developed a textile coating that allows adult human stem cells to colonize the surface fibers of textile implants. The implants could be used as patches in surgery and for injured tissues to hold adult stem cells in place and facilitate repair.

A heart patient who was dying has been saved by combining implantation of a mechanical heart with injection of his own adult stem cells to heal his damaged heart.

Prof. Jennifer Elisseeff, a bioengineer at Johns Hopkins, is developing biological scaffolds and directional signals that will coax the body’s own stem cells to regenerate tissues such as knee cartilage and corneas that have been damaged by trauma. In their first clinical trial, conducted in Europe, Elisseeff’s team had good results treating 15 adults who had at least a two-year history of knee cartilage injuries.

NOTE: If you read the article, you’ll note the requisite political trumpeting of Obama’s opening wide the door for federal funding of new embryonic stem cell lines from destruction of human embryos. The rest of the article discusses results, including ongoing clinical trials, with adult stem cells.

The Science Vane

UCLA scientists have developed a “Lab-on-a-chip” that can perform a thousand chemical reactions at once. Details of the stamp-size, PC-controlled microchip are given in the appropriately-titled journal Lab on a Chip

Microsoft researcher Gordon Bell has converted his brain into an electronic memory. Well sort of. He carries around video equipment, cameras and audio recorders to capture his conversations, commutes, trips and experiences, then saves all the information digitally. Hope he made backups.

A British pharmacy is making a point about promiscuity and sexually-transmitted disease. Asking the question “How many people have you slept with?”, Lloydspharmacy says that the average British man or woman has slept with 2.8 million people (albeit indirectly.) Their posted calculator takes into account not only a person’s partners but also their partners’ partners, and so on.

The Political Vain

Some workers at the National Science Foundation have spent lots of on-the-job time and money surfing porn on the internet. The abuse was apparently so pervasive that it swamped the agency’s inspector general, who cut back investigating grant fraud. One offender excused the abuse with a humanitarian defense, suggesting that he frequented the porn sites to provide a living to the poor overseas women.

Politics trumped science, when four Democratic members of Congress exerted extreme pressure on the FDA to approve a medical device that FDA scientists had rejected.

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In the Know…

by Krystle Gabele

September 28, 2009

Here are some articles of interest.

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President Washington and the “Gender Gap”

by Robert Morrison

September 26, 2009

Ive just received news that the most respected editor of the Papers of George Washington—a collection to goes to fifty volumes—has died. My alma mater, University of Virginia, announced the passing of William Wright Abbott III. He was 87.

Mr. Abbott (all the profesors at U.Va. were called mister, in deference to Mr. Jeffersons republican manners) was revered around the Grounds. The official announcement said:

Abbot was hired as the James Madison Professor of History at U.Va. in 1966, serving twice as chairman of the Corcoran Department of History. Although he retired from the University in 1992, he continued to edit individual volumes of the Washington Papers until 1998, when nearly 50 volumes were in print.

I often heard him remark that interpretations come and go, but that a properly edited set of historical papers can inspire scholars for generations to come,” said U.Va. colleague H.C. Erik Midelfort, C. Julian Bishko Professor of History Emeritus. “Bill brought to his editing task a seasoned, literate sense of what a good edition requires: skill, knowledge and tact.

I had special reason to respect Mr. Abbott: He taught me one of the most important lessons I ever learned about politics and, in the process, helped my marriage. I interviewed Bill Abbott in Charlottesville in the mid-eighties. All the talk then was of the recently discovered gender gap. Liberal journalists had noted that President Ronald Reagan was less popular among women voters than among men. Liberal politicians sensed an opportunity. They encouraged Fritz Mondale, the Democratic nominee in 1984, to name a woman to his ticket. He did so. And promptly lost forty-nine states.

When I spoke with Mr. Abbott, however, he noted that George Washington was the first candidate to benefit from a gender gap. I laughed. Respectfully, I hope. Youre kidding, sir, I answered, women couldnt even vote in the 1780s. Bill Abbott indulged me like an upstart First-Year history student.

Actually, some women could vote in the early republic. A few elderly spinsters and widows who met property requirements were eligible in some states. But that was not Abbotts major point.

Even though most women did not vote, their voices were heard. Mr. Abbott said if George Washington had run in a modern presidential election, he would have won 70% of mens votes. But there would still have been a stubborn 30% of men voters—some well-known like Sam Adams, John Hancock, George Mason, and Patrick Henry—who might have opposed him.

Mr. Abbott then told me that in thirty years of studying George Washington, he had never encountered a single letter, diary entry, poem, or note by an American woman that was anything less than fully supportive of His Excellency, General Washington. One hundred percent positive.

So, how did George Washington do it? It was not the fact that he was the best horseman and the most skillful dancer in America—although that surely did not hurt. It may have been the fact that he loved the company of the ladies, always noticed them, always spoke with them, and formed many enduring friendships with women.

Probably, Washingtons solid support from women came from his titanic self-control. He had a fierce temper, it was known, but he kept it under an iron discipline. During the Revolutionary War, some young hotspurs had publicly urged General Washington to line Tories up against the wall and shoot them, to make an example of those who consorted with their British occupiers. Washington would have none of it. Nor would he burn American towns rather than let the enemy take them.

Perhaps a great part of Washingtons appeal was his devotion to home and hearth. He let it be known he would rather be at Mount Vernon with Lady Washington than dine with the King of France.

Certainly, Washingtons faith in God was an important factor. Then, as now, women sense this about a man and appreciate it.

Ronald Reagan appreciated Washingtons stellar qualities, too. Several years ago, I had occasion to tell Mr. Edwin Meese, the Presidents loyal lieutenant, that the online members of AOL had voted Ronald Reagan the greatest American. (It was a dicey competition, since Reagan had to beat out such candidates as Madonna and Michael Jackson.) Mr. Meese was stunned: He [Reagan] didnt think so. He thought George Washington was the greatest American.

So do I. And its a tribute to Ronald Reagan that in his humility, he was inspired by George Washington. I thank God for the great devotion of Professor William Abbott. He not only taught me about Washington and the gender gap, he also taught me to listen very closely to my wifes opinions about public figures. Shes usually right.

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