September 26, 2011
Last Friday, September 23rd, Congressman Chris Smith, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights (Committee on Foreign Affairs) held a hearing on Chinas One-Child Policy. The same day the Washington Times carried an article by Louise Watt (Associate Press) talking about whyChinas moneymakers are interested in leavingChina. The story contained the amazing statistic of the 20,000 Chinese with at least $15 million in individual assets, 27% have already emigrated and 47% are considering it. The source of this statistic was a report by China Merchants Bank and U.S. Consultants Bain & Co. published in April. Shouldnt these people want to stay given their success?
There were a number of reasons given for this lack of enthusiasm for remaining in China. They included the following: 1) the test-centric Chinese educational system; 2) the desire to live in a place with better health care; and, 3) the objective of preserving their assets and preparing for retirement. Also of interest to these Chinese was having more children and making it easier to develop overseas business. (emphasis added)
This is fascinating: the communist state cannot even relax the rules suppressing family size to accommodate the business leaders who are making the economy grow.
September 26, 2011
The American Interest is running a piece by the distinguished scholar Peter Berger about Christian reflections on the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 9/11. After citing the various and sometimes guilt-laden responses, Berger says this: “In all these texts there is not one word about the obvious moral reality of the event: That the United States was brutally attacked by an enemy of unmitigated evil, against whom violent force was fully justified. Both the goal of Jihadist terrorthe establishment of a tyranny with systemic violation of human rightsand the means to get thereindiscriminate mass murder and tortureare utterly evil in the perspective of Biblical faith. That should be at the center of any Christian reflection about September 11.”
Amen: Whatever the missteps of American policy regarding our response to the slaughter ten years past, nothing should surmount, as a response to it, the reality that the terrorists were killers on a mass scale and that their acts against our country were heinous. Without qualification, without justification. Period.
American Christians embarrassed by the occasional reactive response from some of their fellow believers often go much too far in the other direction, engaging in lugubrious self-reflection and near-flagelative anti-Americanism. I am reminded of something the late Carl Henry wrote years ago: “Not to oppose a Hitler, a Stalin, or a Mao would be an act of Christian lovelessness.” The same is true for the Taliban, al-Qaeda and their associates in the fellowship of human evil.
Should we hate them? No. Should we defend ourselves from them? Yes. The means of this opposition might be open for debate, but if America refuses to thwart those who would destroy it, we demonstrate our unfitness for the independence and liberty our fathers have, at the cost of many of their lives, bestowed to us. Let us be worthy of them.
Family Research Council
September 26, 2011
According to the residents of Bay Minette, Alabama, church attendance is an effective way to reduce repeat crime. They are implementing Operation Restore Our Community, which provides perpetrators of non-violent misdemeanors the opportunity to replace jail time with a year of attending weekly religious services at a place of worship of the offenders choosing. So far, 56 area churches have signed up to participate in the program, which requires the criminal to check-in with a pastor and the police department every week to verify attendance.
The ACLU plans to send a letter to Bay Minette demanding that the program be stopped because it violates the Separation of Church and State on the grounds that it forces church attendance. However, the program simply allows non-violent criminals to choose an alternative to what would have been their only choice previously: time behind bars and a fine. It even allows the offender to choose their specific place of worship. In no way does the justice system force an offender to choose the alternative of church attendance.
However, the new program does provide positive economic benefits for the Bay Minette community. According to an article by local news station WKRG, Bay Minette Police Chief Mike Rowland says that the daily cost of holding a prisoner in jail is 75 dollars. Multiply that amount for a jail sentence, and it becomes quite expensive to dispense justice. On the other hand, if a potential inmate is allowed to integrate into society and hopefully obtain a job, not only will he or she be working towards a successful life path, but he or she will be able to contribute to the local economy, as opposed to being sustained in jail by tax dollars.
Religious affiliation or church attendance does seem to have a positive effect on crime rates. According to studies conducted by scholars at multiple universities, as well as FRCs own Senior Fellow Dr. Pat Fagan, adolescents attending church services weekly show significantly lower crime rates than their counterparts who worship monthly or not at all. A study focusing on theft shows, Thirteen percent of students in Grades 7-12 who attend religious services at least weekly admit to having stolen at least $50 worth of goods… By comparison, 19 percent of those who never worship, 14 percent of those who worship one to three times a month, and 18 percent of those who attend religious services less than once a month have committed such thefts. After a year of attending religious services, it can be hoped that a similar effect would take place among offenders as well.
Based on the combined factors of economic benefit and positive moral reinforcement, Operation Restore Our Community should be an interesting example of how a community can join together to help local non-violent offenders get their lives on the right track, and hopefully get their spiritual lives on the right track as well. As Bay Minette Pastor Robert Gates said, You show me someone who falls in love with Jesus and Ill show you a person who wont be a problem to society, but that will be a help and an influence to those around them.
September 22, 2011
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Terrorism works because some politicians will eventually accommodate terrorist behavior in the hopes that in so doing a “greater good” will emerge from their moral compromise. Police Officer Lance Eldridge
Compromise is a loaded term. Often, it connotes sleaziness, payoffs, moral cowardice, the breeding ground of cynicism and political corruption. Compromise with terrorists, for example, will lead only to greater acts of terrorism, as Officer Eldridge and many others have noted.
However, appropriate compromise is part of all facets of life. For vacation, you want to go to Civil War battle sites, your wife wants to go to Hawaii . You end up in Orlando . Without such compromise, marriages would fail even more than they already do.
In politics, wedding allegiance to principle with prudent good judgment is a daily struggle. Critical legislation is seldom drafted to anyone’s full satisfaction. That is why principled compromise is so important.
Wisdom, prudence and good judgment, combined with accurate information and a willingness to decide, are all necessary for the making of sound decisions. Political philosopher Bruce Frohnen observes, “Prudence is the necessary tool for the attainment of virtue … (it) is the practical wisdom necessary if one is to judge rightly how to respond to particular circumstances.”
Such principled compromise is a matter of both honor and judgment - of the wisdom and prudence articulated in Scripture, affirmed in the conscience, and demonstrated in daily life. As Jesus said, “Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds” (Matthew 11:19).
Genuine wisdom is grounded in truth - truth that teaches the sanctity of life, the dignity of marriage, the importance of religious liberty. Thanks for standing with Family Research Council as we apply that truth, with wisdom, in the public square.
Senior Vice President
Family Research Council
P.S. FRC’s Values Voter Summit is coming up soon — it’s a “don’t want to miss” forum of presidential candidates and conservative leaders from across the country. Click here to register.
Educational Freedom and Reform
- “Educational pioneers,” Tiffany Owens, WORLD Magazine
- “Homeschool Gets Better Report Card Than Public Schools,” R. Leigh Coleman, The Christian Post
- “Homeschooling Magnifies Family Problems (and That’s a Good Thing),” Jennifer Fulwiler, National Catholic Register
- “Homeschool Co-ops Tap Pooled Resources,” Jim Carlton, The Wall Street Journal
- “Entrepreneurial homeschooling co-ops,” Rod Dreher, The American Conservative
Legislation and Policy Proposals
- “Education, Mis-education, and the Mountains as Professors,” Jana Novak, First Things
- “SAT Scores Fall as Most Test Takers Miss College Benchmark,” Jason Koebler, U.S. News & World Report
- ““Banned Books” or Exaggerated Hype?,” Jordan Lorence, Alliance Defense Fund
- “Get Smart About College,” Sandy Baum and Michael McPherson, The Wall Street Journal
- “The Education Our Economy Needs,” Norm Augustine, The Wall Street Journal
- “Pupils Delighted,” Anthony Esolen, Touchstone Magazine
- “Dreary jobs speech won’t go down in history,” Robert Morrison, The Washington Times
- “On the Deficit, the Rich, and the Tea Party,” Paul G. Kengor, The Center for Vision and Values
- “Waiting for Jobs,” Lawrence Mead, The American
- “Taxing Virtue,” Leslie Carbone, Breakpoint
- “Voters Want State Government Reform,” Douglas E. Schoen, The Wall Street Journal
Health care reform: Political and Legislative efforts
- “Pro-‘gay’ groups take ‘pressure tactics’ to PayPal,” Charlie Butts, OneNewsNow
- “‘Anti-bullying’ as a pro-gay wedge,” Rod Dreher, The American Conservative
- “‘Don’t Ask’ Policy Draws to a Close,” Julian E. Barnes, The Wall Street Journal
- “Third sex becomes official: Australian passports now have three gender options - male, female and x,” Daily Mail
- “Military warned not to harass openly homosexual troops,” Rowan Scarborough, The Washington Times
Human Life and Bioethics
- “Obama & HHS Give New Hampshire Planned Parenthood $1 Million After State Revoked Their Funding,” Thomas Peters, CatholicVote.org
- “Senate D.C. spending bill does not include abortion ban,” Ben Pershing, The Washington Post
- “France: Law allowing nurses and midwives to practise abortion declared unconstitutional,” J.C. von Krempach, J.D., Turtle Bay and Beyond
- “Tighter Rules Approved for VA Abortion Clinics,” Bethany Hernandez, Christian Law Journal
- “Florida Couple Receive $4.5M for Missed Chance to Abort,” Bethany Hernandez, Christian Law Journal
- “Ohio’s Heartbeat Bill Causes Controversy,” Michael J. New, National Review Online
- “The Case Against Pro-Life Physicians,” Daniel Kuebler, National Catholic Register
- “Planned Parenthood Stimulus Failure: Abortions Don’t Drop,” Brad Mattes, LifeNews.com
- “Congressional Hearing Marks 35 Years of China’s One-Child Policy,” Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com
- “Can We Talk about Abortion?,” Dennis O’Brien, Commonweal Magazine
- “Let’s Talk about Abortion: A Response to Dennis O’Brien,” Christopher Kaczor, The Public Discourse
- “Children Are a Blessing from God - All Children,” John Knight, Desiring God
Bioethics and Biotechnology
Euthanasia and End of Life Issues
- “Assisted Suicide: The Forgotten Front in the Fight for Life,” Adam J. MacLeod, The Public Discourse
- “Global Aging and Mass Murder in Norway,” Susan Yoshihara, Turtle Bay and Beyond
- “Capital Punishment, Sanctity of Life, and Human Dignity,” Christopher O. Tollefsen, The Public Discourse
- “A Disabled Man’s Fear of Doctor-Prescribed Death,” Wesley J. Smith, Secondhand Smoke
Stem Cell Research
To read about the latest advances in ethical adult stem cell research, keep up with leading-edge reports from FRC’s Dr. David Prentice, click here.
Marriage and Family
- “Listen to FRC’s Henry Potrykus on Family Policy Matters,” FRC Press Office
- “For Some Boomers, Indulgence Trumps Inheritance,” Joe Carter, First Things
- “The Myth of Middle-Class Stagnation,” Steve Conover, The American
- “Jobs & deficits — the moral equation,” Rev. Robert A. Sirico, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
- “Living Miserably,” Editorial, Investor’s Business Daily
- “Are We More Like the Over-Spending President Than We Care to Admit?,” Nancy French, The Home Front
- “Many Americans see God’s hand in economy,” Cathy Lynn Grossman, The Washington Post
- “Marriage, Family Structure, and Children’s Educational Attainment,” Patrick F. Fagan, Leonie Ten Have, and Wendy Chan, Family Research Council
- “A “hubbub” on Marriage with Tony Jones & Lisa Miller,” Andrew Walker, Mere Orthodoxy
- “Divorce: The Spite in Everything,” Douglas E. Baker, Patheos
- “The Science of Shacking Up,” Caryn Rivadeneira, Christianity Today
- “Does Alzheimer’s Justify Divorce?,” John A. Sparks, The Center for Vision and Values
Religion and Public Policy
Religion in America
- “9/11 services show liberal politicizing of memorials,” Ken Klukowski, The Washington Examiner
- “Douglas Baker on Dominionism, Michele Bachmann, & Rick Perry,” Research on Religion Podcast
- “Capitol Hill Luncheon Briefing Series: Defending Religious Expression in Public Life,” The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
- “The red (state) scare,” Janie B. Cheaney, WORLD Magazine
- “ADF Contests Move to Ban ‘Religious Texts’ from Idaho Classrooms,” Alan Sears, Alliance Defense Fund
- “Time to End Clergy Tax Breaks?,” Gregory Jensen, The Acton Institute
- “Theology a hot issue in 2012 GOP campaign,” Rachel Zoll, Associated Press
- “Please, Mr. Netanyahu, Don’t Make Trouble!,” Robert Morrison, The American Thinker
- “The U.S. Must Support Israel At the U.N.,” Rick Perry, The Wall Street Journal
- “A State Free of Jews-Why Does This Sound Familiar?,” Lazar Berman, The Enterprise Blog
- “Palestinians Bring Their Intifada to the United Nations,” Joseph Klein, frontpagemag.com
- “American Jews and the Liberal Art of Demonization,” Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post
- “Between the Green Line and the Blue Line,” Michael J. Totten, City Journal
International Economy and Family
Sharia law — U.S., foreign
Other News of Note
- “Is Chris Matthews Three-Fifths of a Person?,” Robert Morrison, North Platte Bulletin
- “Barack Obama’s patriotism, and everyone else’s,” Rob Schwarzwalder, Hernando Today
- “America’s Mark Twain Conservatives,” Marvin J. Folkertsma, Center for Vision and Values
- “Those Divisive Social Issues,” Leon H. Wolf, Redstate
- “The Importance of Culture,” Roger Scruton, The American Spectator
In a moving account of his experience in the White House, Tim Goeglein - vice-president for government affairs with Focus on the Family and former Special Assistant to George W. Bush- describes how the President’s faith informed his decisions and provided a moral context for historic decision-making. Learn more at The Man in the Middle.
- “Holocaust history,” Marvin Olasky, WORLD Magazine
- “Apples to Oranges?,” Anthony Domestico, Commonweal Magazine
- “The Great Debate,” Akhil Amar, Claremont Review of Books
- “Freedom’s March,” James G. Basker, Claremont Review of Books
- “Marrying Out,” John H. McWhorter, City Journal
September 21, 2011
Scientists have reversed the aging process for human adult stem cells. Researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and the Georgia Institute of Technology have shown in laboratory studies that they can turn back the clock on the aging of adult stem cells, which are responsible for maintenance and repair of old and damaged tissues in the body. Adult stem cells are also the gold standard for patient treatments, now being used for dozens of diseases in thousands of patients around the globe.
The modern “stem cell hypothesis of aging” suggests that living organisms are as old as their adult stem cells, which explains the decline in regenerative power of our tissues as we age. Most cells show aging by the shortening of DNA sequences called telomeres, on the ends of chromosomes. As a cell ages, the telomeres get shorter, similar to a fuse burning down. But adult stem cells tend to maintain these fuses, so the researchers hypothesized that these repair stem cells must age by a different mechanism. They found that as we and our adult stem cells age, 65% of the DNA damage in self-renewing adult stem cells occurred within small sections of DNA called “transposable elements” or “retrotransposons”. Co-author King Jordan said:
“Retrotransposons were previously thought to be non-functional and were even labeled as ‘junk DNA’, but accumulating evidence indicates these elements play an important role in genome regulation.”
Young adult stem cells were able to suppress the activity of these genetic elements and deal with DNA damage, but older adult stem cells were less able to suppress them. Senior author Victoria Lunyak said:
“By suppressing the accumulation of toxic transcripts from retrotransposons, we were able to reverse the process of human adult stem cell aging in culture.”
Next steps will include validating the rejuvenation of adult stem cells in lab animals. The study is published in the journal Cell Cycle.
September 21, 2011
An Israeli company is conducting a clinical trial using a patient’s own adult stem cells to treat ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease.) The method using adult stem cells was developed by professors at Tel Aviv University. Cells are taken from a patient’s own bone marrow and differentiated in the lab into astrocytes, cells responsible for nurturing neurons in the brain. By releasing neurotrophic factors, which are proteins that can protect brain cells, the former bone marrow adult stem cells can protect and preserve brain cell function.
Prof. Daniel Offen, one of the developers of the technique, says he and his team bypassed the ethical and safety issues inherent in embryonic stem cells by using adult stem cells derived from a patient’s own bone marrow. In addition, he notes that because the original cells are drawn from the patients themselves, the body should have no adverse reactions.
The clinical trial has been started at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center, but could be expanding soon to Massachusetts General Hospital in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
September 21, 2011
Stanford University is reporting that they have injected the fourth patient with embryonic stem cell-derived cells in Geron’s experiment on patients with a specific type of spinal cord injury.
Geron had previously announced the first and second patients, but not the third patient who was apparently injected in the last couple of months in Atlanta. Up to ten patients may be tested in the initial experiments. Patients will be monitored for 15 years because of the significant risk of tumor development. Scientists are still trying to overcome the cancerous potential of embryonic stem cells.
Adult stem cells have already successfully improved dozens of spinal cord injury patients, documented by peer-reviewed publications, and all without concerns for tumors, transplant rejection, or harm or destruction of the stem cell donor.
September 20, 2011
Thanks need to go to the Washington Examiners editorial page (Monday, 9/19/11) for bringing our attention to a significant report by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), examining the regulatory tsunami unleashed by the Obama Administration. Entitled Broken Government: How the Administrative State has Broken President Obamas Promise of Regulatory Reform, the committee report argues that the regulatory burden on the American economy is now so great that it has stifled productivity, wages, job creation and economic growth and it has caused job creators to lock down at a time when we need them to expand. The report also argues that federal agencies are avoiding meaningful scrutiny by employing numerous gimmicks including: 1) refusing to perform accurate cost-benefit analysis; 2) overturning decades of precedent without justification; 3) entering into sue and settle agreements; 4) enacting policy changes through guidance documents; 5) improperly issuing emergency rulemakings.
September 20, 2011
For years, Christians and other people of conscience have worked to undo the great damage done (53 million unborn lives lost, and countless women deeply scarred) by the 1973 Supreme Court ruling known as Roe v. Wade.
Thus far, we have been unsuccessful in correcting Roe, which is why, after nearly four decades, there are those who say we should evacuate the public square, abandon political activism, support our local pregnancy care centers, and admit legislative and jurisprudential defeat. Focus on personal and ecclesial acts of charity, they say, but let politics alone.
Such an attitude betrays a weak understanding of the nature of political change. Such change is almost always incremental, involving two steps forward and one step back, over and over again. This process is tedious and sometimes discouraging. It is also necessary and intrinsic to any system of representative self-government.
At some point in the future, a Supreme Court that honors life might end Roe’s legacy of death. Until then, however, conservatives and champions of life will have continued opportunities to hem-in unrestricted access to abortion on demand.
For example, under President Bush, we were successful in enacting the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, a ban on partial-birth abortion, and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. We ended U.S. funding for organizations that perform abortions in the developing world and prevented federal funding of embryo-destructive stem cell research. Mr. Bush appointed a series of pro-life judges to the federal courts and actively fought efforts to clone human beings. This is only a partial list.
Under President Obama, some of these have been reversed: Our country now funds groups that perform abortion abroad and subsidizes abortion at home. The Presidents most recent Supreme Court nominee was a leading advocate for the legalization of partial-birth abortion. Yet some of the progress under the previous President has not been, nor likely will be, reversed.
Since the first of the year, more than 400 pro-life measures have been introduced at the state level, with many becoming law (see page 3, FRC Actions State Pro-Life Legislative Report for 2011). For example:
- In Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer signed legislation ending tax credits for Planned Parenthood.
- Florida Gov. Rick Scott “has signed into law four pro-life bills, including an ultrasound mandate and a ban on abortion coverage in the insurance exchanges mandated by President Obamas health care law.”
- In Nebraska, there is now a law mandating parental consent for under-age abortion.
- Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a measure preventing late-term abortions in his state.
- South Dakota now has a law requiring a three-day waiting period before a woman can have an abortion.
- In Kansas, pro-life champion Gov. Sam Brownback has led his legislature in enacting key pro-life provisions (as detailed here).
Now in Virginia, pro-life Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli have won approval for new regulations on abortion clinics which require hospital-quality standards for first-trimester abortions. Insisting upon sound sanitation, adequate ventilation, and sufficient physical space in facilities where a woman has one of the most invasive procedures known to medicine strikes most Virginians and most people generally - as quite reasonable.
As University of Alabama scholar Michael New has documented, these state laws play a significant role in reducing the number of abortions.
In other words, the pro-life movement has not won a single, comprehensive victory, but rather we have advanced a series of measures that increasingly have constrained abortion at both national and state levels. We have made great strides in convincing our fellow citizens that the unborn child has value independent of his or her mother, that this child is a person from conception onward and enjoys a God-endowed right to life that should be protected in law.
When some professing conservatives call for their compatriots to relinquish the battlefield for good public policy to those who oppose it, they do so out of a misapprehension as to the nature of political achievement and also an immature weariness that vitiates productive, and needed, action.
Defeat is never fatal, Winston Churchill is reported to have said. Victory is never final. Its courage that counts.
In the wake of the many welcome successes of recent years, lets keep up the battle with the courage of which Sir Winston spoke and with the “grace and truth” Christ alone can give. After all, we know Who wins in the end.
September 20, 2011
Attorneys for Dr. James Sherley and Dr. Theresa Deisher have filed a Notice of Appeal in the Sherley et al. v. Sebelius et al. case. The appeal asks for the court to reverse the District Court’s ruling and stop federal taxpayer funding of human embryonic stem cell research, which relies on the destruction of human embryos. The U.S. District Court had reluctantly ruled against Dr. Sherley and Dr. Deisher in July. The next steps will be for the U.S. Court of Appeals to schedule submission of legal briefs and oral arguments in the case.