July 2, 2008
Lots of news lately hasn’t made it into the mainstream press.
One big item only covered by specialty news sources, but very significant, was news from Australian scientists that they had successfully treated Parkinson’s disease in animals using human nasal adult stem cells. In some cases the nasal adult stem cells came from Parkinson’s patients, indicating they could be the source of their own stem cell treatment.
There are numerous advantages to these adult stem cells:
Patient specific stem cells
Disease specific stem cells
Can generate the cells of interest in a disease
Can make them work in an animal model of disease
Takes 20 mins to get tissue in outpatient setting
One month to grow cells
Seventy lines established thus far
Being patient specific there are no transplant rejection issues
No cancer formation as with embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent cells
Large numbers can be grown to study the disease and transplant the cells
No need for embryos, nuclear transfer cloning, animal-human hybrids
No need to inject new genes or retroviruses as in induced pluripotent cells
Highly efficient whereas embryo and reprogrammed skin cells are not
No ethical issues
No destruction of tissues
No need to hyperovulate women to get multiple eggs for embryo generation and cloning
The paper was published in the journal Stem Cells
This is the same group that showed in 2006 that they could get multiple tissue types from this adult stem cell source, including heart, nerve, liver, and brain cells.
July 2, 2008
Apparently a judge in Virginia thinks a large cross is “shouting” and is ordering a church not to display their cross at a Fourth of July picnic. Would this judge have the same “noise” concerns if it was a 30 foot tall Ronald McDonald balloon or a Good Year blimp advertisement? Luckily Alliance Defense Fund is on the case.
Judge denies Christian group’s request to display cross
By Austin Wright
A local Christian group has a right to free speech but they “don’t have to shout,” a federal judge in Norfolk said Tuesday when he denied the group’s request to display a 12-foot-tall cross at a Fourth of July celebration in a Chesapeake city park.
Last year city employees asked Christian Rights Ministries to remove the cross from the celebration at Lakeside Park following a parade. The group alleges that city employees said the cross was “too blatantly Christian,” but the employees said during Tuesday’s court hearing that they had the cross removed for safety reasons. More . .
June 30, 2008
Anyone who knows me (well those who will admit to it at least) knows I disdain zoos and circuses (despite having done a stint at the latter.) I couldn’t help but chuckle at the following story:
Giraffe helps camels, zebras escape from circus
Updated 04:01 p.m., June 30, 2008
Amsterdam police say 15 camels, two zebras and an undetermined number of llamas and potbellied swine briefly escaped from a traveling Dutch circus after a giraffe kicked a hole in their cage.
Police spokesman Arnout Aben says the animals wandered in a group through a nearby neighborhood for several hours after their 5:30 a.m. breakout.
The animals were back at the circus later Monday after being rounded up by police and circus workers with the assistance of dogs. Aben says neighbors fed some of the animals _ which he said was a bad idea _ but they were tame and nobody was hurt.
Says Aben: “You have to imagine somebody rubbing his eyes first thing in the morning and saying, ‘Am I seeing things or is that 15 camels walking past?’”
June 27, 2008
The theme of this week’s episode of the FX series 30 Days was homosexual adoption. FRC’s own Vice President for Policy, Peter Sprigg, was interviewed, during which he referred to several problems with homosexual parenting that are rooted in the homosexual lifestyle itself: “Homosexuality is associated with higher rates of sexual promiscuity, sexually-transmitted diseases, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse.”
Predictably, homosexual activists were outraged by what they characterized as a “defamatory statement,” and pulled out all the stops to coerce the producers to edit out Peter’s statements. To their credit, the producers refused, and those watching were at least presented with the other side of the story, which contradicts the positive and uncritical depictions of homosexual parenting typically found in media stories.
But what about the statement itself - are homosexual activists correct in asserting that there is “no credible scientific research that backs Sprigg’s claim”? There is, in fact, credible research indicating the negative health effects of homosexuality, including the following:
June 25, 2008
As their Presidential nominee was spreading the myth of gender equity that “women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men” his Democratic colleagues in Congress were pushing for a different kind of equality, porcelain parity.
Congressmen Ed Towns (D-NY-6%) and Yvette Clarke (D-NY-6%) have sent around a “Dear Colleague” asking Members to support H.R. 693, Restroom Gender Parity in Federal Buildings Act of 2007. According to the letter the bill will
“require any federal building constructed for public use, with a total expenditure in excess of $1,500,000, to have a 2 to 1 ratio for women and men’s restrooms.”
In case you were wondering this is all done at taxpayer expense.
The letter was filled with wonderful facts such as
“According to the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), individuals vary significantly in the frequency with which they need to urinate and defecate, with pregnant women and women with stress incontinence needing to urinate more frequently.”
Uhhh, may I ask why OSHA is studying such things? I would think it is not really an issue taxpayers would take (forgive me) sitting down.
Senator Craig (R-WY) was unavailable for comment.
June 23, 2008
Three studies in the early 1990’s gave birth to the widespread belief that homosexuality is determined before birth by some biological (possibly genetic) factor. Although those three studies have been largely discredited, the search for the “gay gene” or, in some cases, the “gay brain,” goes on. Now another such study is in the news, reporting difference between the heterosexual and homosexual brain.
Studies like this are invariably reported as providing evidence that people are “born gay” and can’t change, when they don’t provide anything of the kind. All they show is a limited correlation between certain biological markers and homosexuality, but one of the first principles of statistics and science is that “correlation is not causation.”
I can’t critique this entire study on technical grounds, although I have read it. The sample size of 20 to 25 in each group (by sex and sexual orientation) seems fairly small, but the authors claim statistical significance for their findings. However, they give no explanation of how the study subjects were recruited, so there’s no way to evaluate whether this sample is likely to be representative of the larger population.
What many people don’t understand is that conservatives on the issue of homosexuality have never denied that there may be biological factors which correlate with homosexuality, or even ones which may, to some extent, influence its development. But what has never been found is any such factor that can be proven to cause homosexuality in a deterministic way.
If there were a genetic or biological factor which could fix and determine for all time that a person would be homosexual, then you would expect that factor to be present in every homosexual and in no heterosexual. That’s not what you find in this study, or in any of the similar studies. While there may be a difference is the average level of “cerebral asymmetry,” for example, there’s also considerable overlap between members of the homosexual and heterosexual sample.
One irony in this study is that, in essence, all it is saying is that the brains of homosexual men are more “feminine” that those of heterosexual men, and the brains of homosexual women are more “masculine” than those of heterosexual women. But don’t homosexual activists object to that as stereotyping? I thought they liked to claim that sexual orientation and gender identity are two completely different things.
The real bottom line here is that the “gay brain” and “gay gene” studies have so far produced findings that are only marginally interesting from a scientific perspective. The real reason these studies get so much media attention is because proving that people are born homosexual and cannot change would serve the political purpose of persuading people that sexual orientation is like race, and that it should be treated like race under the law. That’s all that’s really going on in the brains of homosexual activists.
(To learn more, order Getting It Straight: What the Research Shows about Homosexuality)
June 21, 2008
[Note: On June 17, Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State posted an item on their blog criticizing Family Research Council for ads that we ran in several California newspapers for Father’s Day. Below is a response.]
I read your June 17 blog post in which you said, “I challenge the FRC and other Religious Right groups to come up with one good secular reason against same-sex marriage. I don’t think they can do it.”
Perhaps you just haven’t been paying attention. I am sending you a complimentary copy of my book, Outrage: How Gay Activists and Liberal Judges Are Trashing Democracy to Redefine Marriage (Washington: Regnery, 2004-also available online). You can ignore Chapter 8 if you like, since it offers nine pages of religious arguments. Concentrate instead on Chapters 1-7, which offer 107 pages of secular arguments against same-sex marriage.
June 13, 2008
Not all of California is one banana short of a bunch. One area of sanity is in Kern County where the elected clerk and auditor-controller, Ann Barnett, has decided instead of being complicit in the destruction of marriage that Kern County would stop performing marriages. The reactions to her actions expose quite a bit of the intolerance Christians can expect more and more of as the “same-sex” marriage movement goes beyond California.
On Thursday, she appeared stung by critics who have labeled her a “religious terrorist” and called for her resignation; by the hate mail that has flooded her office; by the unceasing requests for interviews, so many that she has unplugged her home phone.
“I’m just a county clerk trying to do my job,” said the tall and soft-spoken 53-year-old, dressed in business attire, hands folded primly on her lap. “I wasn’t out to make a statement.”
The local leader in the area’s homosexual community makes it very clear what should happen to people who disagree with him.
“If it really bothers her conscience, she might want to consider stepping down,” Wedell said.
June 9, 2008
25 years after the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, the leader of the World Health Organization’s efforts against the disease has finally admitted the obvious—there will be no worldwide AIDS pandemic among the general heterosexual population.
“Whereas once it was seen as a risk to populations everywhere, it was now recognised that, outside sub-Saharan Africa, it was confined to high-risk groups including men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and sex workers and their clients,” reported the British newspaper The Independent, which published an interview with Kevin de Cock of the WHO on June 8
In the article, however, one line stood out in particular:
“Any revision of the threat was liable to be seized on by those who rejected HIV as the cause of the disease, or who used the disease as a weapon to stigmatise high risk groups, he said.”
In other words: We couldn’t tell the truth, because it might have made people think there is something wrong with homosexuality, prostitution, and drug use.
May 21, 2008
What do you do if you’re a pro-embryonic stem cell physician and can’t get federal dollars to fund your research?
The answer is obvious: make a Lifetime/afterschool special - caliber movie that demonizes conservative pro-life senators.
The Los Angeles Times reports on a new film called Hope premiering at the Cannes Film Festival. The movie depicts a pro-life U.S. Senator whose son is injured in an automobile accident. The son’s only “hope,” of course, is an experimental embryonic stem cell treatment —- which he must travel to India to receive. He can’t get it in the United States because of his father’s evil polices.
Judging from the quality of the film’s trailer, I don’t think this will get much play beyond the L.A. Times, obscure late-night cable, and this blog. I do think the film’s producers would do well to get beyond the hype of life-destroying embryonic stem cells, to the real hope of adult stem cells, which are the only stem cells to have produced successful treatments in patients.