FRC Blog

How Much is that Glowing Doggie in the Window?

by David Prentice

April 24, 2009

A team at Seoul National University in South Korea has produced the first transgenic cloned dog, a cloned beagle named Ruppy (short for Ruby Puppy.) She and four other beagles all produce a fluorescent protein that glows red under ultraviolet light. The results provide a proof-of-principle experiment that dogs can be genetically engineered (they had already been cloned first in 2005, by this team along with disgraced scientist Woo Suk Hwang), supposedly opening up possibilities to use genetically-engineered dogs as disease models for study. Scientists note that this shows that cloning and genetic engineering can be applied to a wide range of mammals. The report is published in the journal Genesis.

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Book Review: 30 Days in 30 Ways to Save Your Family

by Krystle Gabele

April 23, 2009

Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to Rebecca Hagelin of The Heritage Foundation speak about her recently released book, 30 Days in 30 Ways to Save Your Family.  Hagelin wrote this book to strengthen the family and help foster enriching relationships with your children.  Although I am not a parent yet, I found the advice offered throughout the book exactly the prescription for creating more unified families and raising a generation of responsible and healthy adults.

The book is filled with ways to combat the threats of media and marketing influences, while providing tips on protecting children from violence or inappropriate materials.  Hagelin also provides advice on strengthening relationships with your children by writing them a letter, talking with them, going for a slow walk, or playing a game as a family.  These are all ways to share your values with a child. As a former social worker, who worked directly with families, I can tell you Hagelin’s advice is the message I often communicated to my clients.

Hagelin’s book is a must read for parents. The family is only stronger when there are bonds for unity.

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Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

April 23, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

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Obama FDA Caves on Plan B

by Chris Gacek

April 22, 2009

The Associated Press is reporting today that the Obama Administration has decided to roll over for a federal district court decision issued last month commanding the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to sell the morning-after-pill, Plan B, to 17-year-olds without a prescription.

Typically the Department of Justice (DoJ) would vigorously defend an agency decision - in this case FDA’s restricting Plan B over-the-counter sales (OTC) to women 18 and over.  Here, however, the Obama FDA and DoJ have decided to accept an aggressive court ruling without appeal.  In essence, the Administration let a judge make a scientific decision as to when it was safe to sell Plan B over-the-counter.

 

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Clone Claims Create Confusion, Concern

by David Prentice

April 22, 2009

He’s ba-ack! Fertility doctor Panayiotis Zavos now claims he created 14 cloned human embryos and transferred 11 of them into 4 women’s wombs, in hopes of a born clone. The claim was accompanied by a video, from an independent film maker, of Zavos supposedly doing cloning in the lab. While no clone pregnancies resulted, Zavos stated “the cloned child is coming.” Dr Zavos also said he has produced cloned embryos of three dead people, including a 10-year-old child called Cady, who died in a car crash. He said he did this in response to grieving relatives who wanted clones of their loved ones. In those cases, Zavos says he fused the human cells with cow eggs rather than human eggs, to create a human-animal hybrid “model” allowing him to study the cloning procedure. He noted “It’s a model for us to learn. First you develop a model and then you go on to the target. We did not want to experiment on human embryos, which is why we developed the hybrid model.”

Given the history of human cloning claims, we should be hearing more news soon. The tinfoil hat crowd includes the Raelians (who believe that the human race was cloned from aliens) and their claim that they cloned several children back in 2002, and fertility doctor Severino Antinori, who has also claimed success in creating born clones, most recently in March 2009.

There is no evidence to believe Antinori or the Raelians. But Zavos does warrant watching. Zavos is determined to succeed and supposedly has a long line of people eager to sign up for his cloning program, at a cost of between $45,000 and $75,000. Zavos first published a paper claiming an 8-10-cell cloned human embryo back in 2003, in the journal Reproductive Biomedicine Online. Since then he has been collaborating with Karl Illmensee, who has a long track record in cloning experiments dating back to pioneering studies in the early 1980s with mice. Illmensee also pioneered in the 1970s what has become the gold standard test for pluripotent stem cells—injecting a cell into an early embryo and following its development into various tissues in the born organism.

In 2006 Zavos and Illmensee published the claim of another cloned human embryo, which after reaching the 4-cell stage was transferred to a woman’s womb, though no pregnancy resulted. They also published a paper in Fertility and Sterility in 2006 claiming production of cloned cow-human hybrid embryos. And in 2007 Illmensee published a review article promoting human cloning. In that paper he quotes a 2001 survey indicating that “More than three-quarters of ART practitioners responding indicated that they would be willing to provide human reproductive cloning.”

A Brief History of Human Cloning

Beyond the claims made above, including published papers, there have been others who published claims of creating cloned human embryos.

In 2001 Advanced Cell Technology claimed that they had created cloned human embryos, that survived only to a few-cell stage.

In 2003 a Chinese group claimed success at producing cloned rabbit-human hybrid embryos.

Of course, there were the fraudulent claims of cloned human embryos by Hwang, published in the esteemed journal Science in 2004 and again in 2005.

In 2005 the British team of Stojkovic & Murdoch claimed getting one cloned human embryo (and no cells).

French, Wood and their group at Stemagen seem to have the only verifiable claim of cloned human embryos in 2008. For that experiment, Wood admitted he cloned himself.

In December 2008, a Chinese group claimed production of human cloned embryos (but no cells obtained from the embryos.)

In a March 2009 paper another Chinese group claimed production of several cloned human embryos. Despite their claim in the first sentence of their abstract, they went on to explain in the paper that they did not obtain any embryonic stem cells from the cloned embryos (maybe there was a problem in translation?)

ACT again claimed in 2009 that they had produced both cloned human embryos and cloned animal-human hybrid embryos (no cells were obtained from the embryos.)

Clone Envy

Stanford’s Irving Weissman may be jealous of Zavos. Weissman frothed and sputtered after Friday’s announcement of the draft NIH Guidelines on embryonic stem cell funding. Likewise William Neaves of the Stowers Institute in Kansas City is also no doubt jealous. The Stowers spent $30 million in Missouri in 2006 to pass a state constitutional amendment (Amendment 2) allowing human cloning.

Zavos, Weissman, Antinori, Neaves, and the Raelians all want cloned human embryos for their own purposes.

Isn’t about time to say “no clones”?

The United Nations in 2005 passed a Declaration to prohibit all human cloning. The U.S. should pass similar legislation, such as the Brownback-Landrieu bill and the Stupak-Wamp bill.

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Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

April 22, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

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Aaron Klein: Obama Pushing Saudi Plan for Israel-Arab Peace

by Chris Gacek

April 22, 2009

            Perhaps, Barack Obama’s bow to the King of Saudi Arabia was much more than a common courtesy.  If Aaron Klein of WorldnetDaily and Schmoozing with Terrorists (his book) is correct then President Obama owes a great intellectual debt to the Saudi monarch, Abdullah.  This is so because Obama is using the Saudi King’s “Arab Peace Initiative” as the framework of his Middle East foreign policy.

            In an April 21, 2009 WorldNetDaily article Klein summarizes the Arab Initiative as follows:

The Arab Initiative, originally proposed by King Abdullah in 2002 and later adopted by the Arab League, states that Israel would receive “normal relations” with the Arab world in exchange for a full withdrawal from the entire Gaza Strip, West Bank, Golan Heights and eastern Jerusalem, which includes the Temple Mount.

It also “demands the imposition of a non-binding U.N. resolution that calls for so-called Palestinian refugees who wish to move inside Israel to be permitted to do so at the ‘earliest practicable date.’”  There are approximately 4 million Arabs who claim Palestinian refugee status with the United Nations.

            Netanyahu has told U.S. envoy, George Mitchell, that Israel will condition talks “with the Palestinians on Palestinian leaders’ first recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, a step that would be difficult should Hamas join a unity government.”  According to Klein, Mitchell recently described Obama’s general plan to Netanyahu, and the Israeli leader was dismayed to learn that Obama was following the Saudi proposal.  Klein described these developments in an interview during the second hour of the John Batchelor Show (April 19, 2009) (minute 15 (mp3 file)).

            In late January, Klein discussed Obama’s attraction to the Saudi plan on the day of President Obama’s interview on an Arab TV network.  In that interview Obama referenced King Abdullah’s plan and spoke approvingly of it (“… I might not agree with every aspect of the proposal, but it took great courage to put forward something that is as significant as that.”).  Given Obama’s admiration for a courageous plan, a bow to the author of the courageous plan was probably in order.  (Unfortunately for Abdullah - Obama didn’t give him the really cool Hugo Chavez-handshake in addition to the bow.)

             Make no mistake about it:  these are very dangerous times for Israel.  According to Klein, “Defenders of Israel warn the plan would leave the Jewish state with truncated, difficult-to-defend borders and could threaten Israel’s Jewish character by compelling it to accept millions of foreign Arabs.”  More to the point, Klein states that “Arab Street” views the Arab Peace Initiative as a way to fatally undermine the state of Israel.

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Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

April 21, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

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