Month Archives: July 2008

Matching Rhetoric with Reduction

by Family Research Council

July 7, 2008

I’m not quite sure how out of it you have to be to think the Democratic Party is wavering from its pro-abortion on demand stance that it has held for decades, however that is the fear expressed by Frances Kissling, former president of the oxymoronically named Catholics for Free Choice, and Kate Michelman, former head of the pro-abortion group NARAL, in a new op-ed at Salon.com.

The two ladies state that by adopting an “abortion-reduction strategy” the Democratic Party will lose voters this election. They argue this reduction strategy is wrong-headed while also pointing out the Democratic Party realizes it has a major problem attracting a large segment of voters due to its out of the mainstream positions on abortion.

The solution that Frances and Kate put forth is supporting a bill couched in sugary terms that would actually significantly increase the governmental taxpayer funded slush fund that Planned Parenthood currently receives. The bill, H.R. 1074, is sponsored by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-0%) and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH-12%). They call Rep. Ryan a “pro-life Democrat,” despite his continued support of Planned Parenthood funding, embryonic stem cell funding, the sometimes abortifacient “morning after pill” (he had introduced an amendment that would have required EVERY medical unit in the Armed Forces to carry the drug) and taxpayer funding for organizations that support coercive abortions (Rep. Ryan received a 12% on FRCAction’s latest scorecard because of his vote on the Fairness Doctrine - otherwise he would have scored a 0%) .

The truth of the matter is not that the core of the Democratic Party is becoming more pro-life but that it is changing its rhetoric to cloud the issue. Can you name one prominent Democrat in power in elected office in recent history who is also pro-life? The most well known pro-life Democrat was Gov. Bob Casey Sr. (D-Penn.) who was shut out of speaking at the Democratic conventions. His son now serves in the U.S. Senate but also serves Planned Parenthood with a number of his votes. Only when the Democratic Party truly opens up to even listening to arguments for life will it sincerely be open to change.

Saving Cord Blood to Save Lives

by David Prentice

July 7, 2008

NPR station WCPN is running a 3-day series entitled “Life’s Blood: How umbilical cord blood is being transformed from a wasted resource into life-saving therapies“. It started today in Morning Edition.

In the first installment, “Banking on Babies: The Potential of Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells“, reporter Gretchen Cuda interviewed doctors and pregnant moms about banking cord blood and differences between public and private cord blood banks.

As cord blood researcher Dr. Mary Laughlin notes: “While everybody is arguing over embryonic stem cells we’re doing cord blood transplants.” Cleveland OB Dr. Marcus Tower adds “There are probably over 80 existing diseases that we’ve proven that stem cells from the umbilical cord blood to be useful in treating. ”

Tuesday’s story is supposed to follow the cord blood stem cells from the cord to the clinic. Should be interesting, so tune in.

Wall-E: pro-green, pro-life

by Family Research Council

July 7, 2008

Pixar’s newest movie Wall-E is a gem. Technically brilliant to a degree even the excellent Finding Nemo and Toy Story movies did not achieve, this nearly silent film offers more food for thought than most adult fare, and it does so with a romantic heart that is never cloying. It may be a sign of our times that machines like the waste collection robot-hero Wall-E and a space probe (her name is Eve) in search of greenery-on-Earth exhibit more genuine emotion than most human actors. Then again this duo, who populate an empty planet with little going for it, sense their need for each other (Wall-E is inspired by a battered video of Hello Dolly he has preserved among his trash-trove and watches obsessively) without a hint of vulgarity or, it goes without saying, carnality. They are literally hard-wired for connection.

As for the movie’s politics, it transcends polarization while remaining decidedly pro-green, pro-life (babies abound), and pro-romantic love between opposite sexes capable of regenerating a blighted Earth. Rank consumption has never been skewered better, or with a gentler touch that bemoans how far humanity has sunk but does not succumb to self-loathing. These soft, slothful creatures are still “us” and still capable of renewal, which, opening themselves to intimacy and to, well, infants, they achieve. John Lasseter and his Pixar team have made some of the top feature films of the last 15 years, and Wall-E may be the best of them all. The score, crucial to the almost wordless atmosphere of the movie, is tremendous too.

Mom was British, Dad was strain BALB/c

by David Prentice

July 7, 2008

Brazilian scientists say they have produced human sperm cells in the testes of mice. The researchers extracted stem cells from the dental pulp of a human male volunteer, and injected the cells into the testes of male mice. Later they found that human sperm were being produced.

There’s no way to know at this point, with just a press release, whether the sperm was mature and functional. The scientists will present their research this week at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona. If this process works, it would seem simpler to put the cells in the man’s own testes.

The article notes in great understatement that the process of growing human sperm in a mouse “could, however, prove controversial because it gives a separate species an intimate role in human reproduction.”

Religion Mosquerading as Education

by Family Research Council

July 6, 2008

I have a strong feeling the ACLU would have less of a problem with something like this happening here in the United States than they would with even a moment of silence in the public schools.*

Report: Schoolboys Get Detention for Refusing to Pray to Allah

Saturday , July 05, 2008 FOX NEWS

Two boys were punished this week for refusing to kneel on prayer mats and worship Allah during a class demonstration on Islam, the Daily Mail reported.

Irate parents said a religious education teacher at the Alsager High School in England told students to wear Muslim headgear during a lesson on Tuesday. “But if Muslims were asked to go to church on Sunday and take Holy Communion, there would be war,” the grandfather of one of the students said.

The two boys belong to a class that includes 11- to 12-year-olds, and after their refusal to participate they were given detention, the story says.

Another parent, Karen Williams, told the Mail: “Not only was it forced upon them, my daughter was told off for not doing it right. They’d never done it before and they were supposed to do it in another language.”

Deputy Headmaster Keith Plant said the teacher has given her version of the incident but he declined to elaborate.

According to a statement from the Cheshire County Council on behalf of the school: “Educating children in the beliefs of different faith is part of the diversity curriculum on the basis that knowledge is essential to understanding.

We accept that such teaching is to be conducted with some sense of sensitivity.”

* Update: I am referencing cases in the United States where the ACLU has been silent when it is Islam that is being proselytized (most notably with Islam being taught to seventh graders in California public schools and Muslim footbaths on the University of Michigan campus

Big Pharma Invests in Adult Stem Cells

by David Prentice

July 6, 2008

The political debates produce a lot heat and hype regarding stem cells but when it actually comes to helping patients, adult stem cells continue to provide success and real promise.

Given the results as well as a view toward the bottom line, it’s not surprising that Big Pharma is investing in adult stem cells.

Pfizer recently invested $3 million in a new San Diego company, EyeCyte, which will develop adult stem cell treatments for eye diseases such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. The company is based on the work of Dr. Martin Friedlander, who has repaired retinal damage in animals using adult stem cells (here is one of the scientific papers)

In the meantime, Perkin-Elmer has established a cord blood research institute to investigate more clinical uses for these stem cells. They note that “Cord blood is a valuable, non-controversial source of stem cells with proven effect in treating more than 70 serious diseases, including many cancers and immunodeficiencies. To date, more than 10,000 cord blood transplants have been performed worldwide. In the future, medical use of cord blood stem cells may be expanded to include treatment of cardiac disease, autoimmune diseases or neurological disorders.”

Other companies, such as Cytori, are already pioneering the use of adult stem cells for reconstructive surgery, as well as other uses including repair of heart damage. And the company Osiris is moving rapidly ahead with several applications, including for graft-vs-host disease, Crohn’s disease, and even chronic lung disease. Randall Mills, CEO of Osiris notes

One of the pieces of rhetoric you hear all of the time is that the U.S. is far behind in stem cell research because of this or that but the fact is, we are not only the furthest along in the U.S., but the world.”

From the government angle, the real value of adult stem cells to patients has been recognized by the Department of Defense, which formed the $250 million Armed Forces Institute for Regenerative Medicine, with the goal of using wounded soldiers’ own cells in repair of damage. And in the U.K. the government has boosted the local economy with a 3 million investment in an adult stem cell lab at Durham University.

The recognition of adult stem success and the real benefits to health can only continue to help more patients.

South Koreans Clone Boogers; Sued for Patent Infringement

by David Prentice

July 6, 2008

Before you get picky and get your nose out of joint, this is a story about dog cloning.

Booger was a dog, a pit bull terrier that died in 2006. The lady that owned him wanted… more Boogers, so she hired a South Korean company, RNL Bio, to clone her beloved dog, and the clones are due to be born in a few weeks, at a discount price of $50,000 (their usual charge is $150,000). The company has also announced that it has produced four clones of a cancer-sniffing dog.

But now a rival cloning company in the U.S., BioArts International, has issued a cease-and-desist order to RNL Bio. BioArts says they hold exclusive rights to cloning of cats, dogs, and endangered species, and they don’t want RNL cutting into their business. Especially since they’re trying to launch their own dog cloning company, Best Friends Again, with an auction for the first five dogs cloned (bidding starts at $100,000.)

The whole thing brings to mind the pet-cloning company “Re-Pet” in the 2000 Schwarzenegger movie, The Sixth Day.

Looks like a cloning dogfight is underway.

A new day is dawning in abortion litigation

by Bill Saunders

July 4, 2008

Remember Gonzales v. Carhart? That’s the Supreme Court decision from last year that upheld the Congressional ban on partial birth abortion. Justice Kennedy wrote the opinion, and lawyers tied themselves up in knots trying to interpret it. Most agree it was a narrow victory for the pro-life cause, but it was a victory. That can be seen in last Friday’s decision by the 8th Circuit to allow a South Dakota abortion law to go into effect, a case in which FRC filed a friend of the court brief.

Prior to Gonzales v. Carhart, such laws were routinely struck down before they ever came into binding, legal force. Kennedy specifically noted, however, that this approach (another of the distortions abortion causes to the law) would no longer be followed. If someone wanted to challenge a law as it was applied to them, they could, and the court would decide whether specific provisions of that law, rather than the entire law, violated the Constitution. The 8th Circuit applied that logic to a challenge to South Dakota’s law, and allowed the law to go into effect.

The law merely provides that women seeking an abortion should be given complete information about the risks involved, etc, but Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry wanted to stop it at any cost, as usual, regardless of the fact women deserve to receive such information. However, the 8th Circuit rejected their old “business as ususal” approach to litigation concerning abortion and replaced it with some common sense.

A new day is dawning in abortion litigation.

Crazy laws still on the books in some areas:

by Family Research Council

July 3, 2008

In the state of Virginia, no animal may be hunted on Sundays with the exception of raccoons, which may be hunted until 2 a.m.

In Prince William County, VA: no person may keep a skunk as a pet, it is illegal to cuss about another, and it is illegal to park a car on railroad tracks. (Though Darwin’s theory on natural selection might take care of any scofflaws of that one.)

In North Carolina organizations may not hold their meetings while the members present are in costume. Which is why the McClusky family does not hold it’s reunions there.

In Dunn, NC no one may visit departed love ones after dark and in Zebulon, NC no one may stand outside the police station for any purpose after dark. That last law would also presumably include police officers so if you want to commit a crime in Zebulon, wait till sundown. Also in Zebulon no one may walk on top of the water tank of the city, presumably to discourage any cheap Jesus imitators.

As expected the state of California has some of the weirdest laws on the books. In the Golden State it’s illegal to ride a bicycle in a swimming pool, animals are banned from mating publicly within 1,500 feet of a tavern, school or place of worship and it is a misdemeanor to shoot at any kind of game from a moving vehicle, unless the target is a whale. Apparently after failing as a sea captain Ahab became a CA state legislator.

Lastly, in San Jose, CA, you can’t sleep in an outhouse without the owner’s permission. A word of advice, if the owner says yes, do not, under any circumstances, agree to sleep in the basement.

For more crazy laws still on the books go here.

Re: Under the Banner of Kennedy

by Family Research Council

July 3, 2008

Michael, one additional point on Kennedy’s decision and also a comment on castration of sex offenders if I may.

As a military blog first pointed out and major news sources picked up, Justice Kennedy got a number of things wrong in his decision. Justice Kennedy used as part of his justification that the federal government has gone out of its way to NOT include the death penalty for child rapists. However that simply is not true:

But just two years ago, Congress did enact a law permitting the death penalty for the rape of a child, which makes the number of authorizing jurisdictions seven (Louisiana, Georgia, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and the military), not six.

Section 552(b) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006, 119 Stat. 3136, 3264 (2006), provides that “[u]ntil the President otherwise provides pursuant to” UCMJ article 56, “the punishment which a court-martial may direct for an offense under” the amended UCMJ article 120 “may not exceed the following limits: … For an offense under subsection (a) (rape) or subsection (b) (rape of a child), death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.”

That is a congressional statute expressly authorizing the death penalty for the rape of a child. How come neither side in the Kennedy case even mentioned it?

Personally I am opposed to the death penalty - but at the same time do not believe there is a pit in Hell deep enough to put anyone who would harm a child in. I am also not convinced castration is an answer. Castration only reduces testosterone levels and

may control arousal and libido. However rape of any kind is never a sexual act but one of violence and control and castration would never be a surefire way to suppress that deviant and despicable behavior. Child rapists deserve a life in prison with no chance of parole in my opinion - their vile acts have little chance of rehabilitation.

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