January 13, 2012
This week brought yet another of those youve gotta be kidding stories.
The Associated Press reports that the Greek government has expanded its list of officially recognized disabilities to include pedophiles (as well as exhibitionists, kleptomaniacs, and pyromaniacs).
This mean pedophiles in Greece may now qualify for government-funded disability paynot despite, but because of, their pedophilia.
I assume that the disability classification stems from identifying pedophilia as a mental illness. Yet not every illness is a disability. Wikipedia offers several definitions of disability, but a central concept is the existence of a restriction in the ability to perform a normal activity of daily living. Pedophiles do not have a restriction in the ability to perform a normal activity. They have an inclination to perform an abnormal activity. This is not a disability.
Taking pedophilia out of the realm of moral judgment and into the realm of mental health is one step toward normalizing it. Some advocates, like those at a conference in Baltimore last summer, would like to go the rest of the way and remove pedophilia from the list of mental disorders altogether. Now Greece is on the verge of actively subsidizing it.
Taken to an extreme, the Greek action runs the risk of creating a truly perverse incentivefor otherwise healthy individuals to become (or pretend to be) pedophiles merely in order to obtain government support payments.
Fortunately, Greek disability advocates have condemned the move as incomprehensible. Yannis Vardakastanis, who is blind, said, Its really not not serious to grant Peeping Toms a 20-30 pecent disability rate and 10 percent to diabetics.
Given the fiscal crisis that has confronted Greece in recent years, it boggles the mind that they would even consider giving payments to pedophiles.
January 13, 2012
Nature notes that the first brief has been filed in the appeal of the Sherley et al. v. Sebelius et al. case. Dr. James Sherley and Dr. Theresa Deisher have filed suit against HHS and NIH to stop federal taxpayer funding of human embryonic stem cell research. The initial appeals brief (Appellants’ Brief) was filed by attorneys for Drs. Sherley and Deisher.
The briefing schedule was set back in December, as well as the date for oral arguments in the appeal.
January 13, 2012
A 30-year-old Baltimore man is now back home recuperating from surgery in Sweden that implanted an artificial trachea made with his own adult stem cells. Christopher Lyles was diagnosed with inoperable tracheal cancer. He found Italian Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, who is a Visiting Professor at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, who has constructed and transplanted replacement tracheas, using the patient’s own bone marrow adult stem cells to build the new tissue. Lyles traveled to Sweden in November to have the surgery; he returned home this week with his new implanted trachea. In a telephone interview, Lyles said he was “feeling good”, and “just thankful for a second chance at life. He was looking forward to watching his 4-year-old daughter grow up.
He went home in very good shape, said Dr. Macchiarini. Macchiarini said that Mr. Lyles adult stem cells were placed onto the synthetic windpipe scaffold and grown in a bioreactor for two days, then transplanted into his body after removal of his tumorous trachea. The cells continue to grow and differentiate after implantation into the patient. Macchiarini pointed out:
Were using the human body as a bioreactor to promote regeneration.
Because his own adult stem cells were used, there was no need for drugs to prevent his body from rejecting the transplanted windpipe; use of anti-rejection drugs, which have numerous side-effects, is a common problem in transplants using donated organs.
This is the second synthetic trachea transplant. The first transplant occurred in June 2011, and the results of that first synthetic trachea transplant were published in The Lancet. Macchiarini had done eight previous artificial trachea transplants, using cadaveric trachea stripped of cells and then coated with the patient’s own adult stem cells. The synthetic tracheal scaffold was designed and built by a Columbus, Ohio company and the bioreactor used to initiate growth of the adult stem cells on the scaffold for two days was built by a Massachusetts company.
January 13, 2012
NIH Director Francis Collins has approved four more human embryonic stem cell lines as eligible for federal taxpayer funding. The latest approval brings the total to 146. The four new lines are all from UCLA. The new lines, designated by the deriving lab as “UCLA 7”, “UCLA 8”, “UCLA 9”, and “UCLA 10”, join six previous UCLA lines approved by NIH for taxpayer funding—UCLA 1-3 approved April 27, 2010 and UCLA 4-6 approved February 3, 2011. All of the lines were apparently derived from human embryos after the new NIH guidelines went into effect in July 2009. NIH doesn’t provide details on the cells themselves or their derivation.
In the meantime, Adult Stem Cells continue to provide the gold standard for patient treatment, and the only stem cell type with published positive results at improving health and saving lives.
Family Research Council
January 12, 2012
You wont want to miss these special Im Pro-Life Stories Because stories nor the information about the conference at the end of this blog.
Isabel is a beautiful four and a half week-old infant in the picture submitted by her grandmother. In her words, My grandson and his wife were told the baby they expected had spina bifida. They were apprised of all the problems she would no doubt have: possible club foot, no control over bodily functions, trauma, toxic, irreversible injury. These were just a few of the possibilities. Quite simply, they chose Life. She was prayed hard for by everyone. She has not shown signs of these items or any others so far. She was 4 1/2 weeks in photo with her father. She is loved and adored by all and growing every day. They would not change things for anything and are grateful for the gift they were given. We all are.
Filip and Christopher are fifteen-year-old twins from Norway, both with Down Syndrome. They are pictured with their 22-week ultrasound. Their parents, Elly and Knut, write that their identical twins are two reasons they are pro-life! They describe Filip and Christopher as the Lords ambassadors. For fifteen years the Lord has used them to bless us and many others in so many ways.
To participate in the photo campaign, click here.
As one of our Sanctity of Life month activities, FRC is co-sponsoring a pro-life conference on the topic of prenatal disability diagnosis on January 21st: The Conference will bring together professionals from many different specialty areas, including genetic researchers, OB/GYN physicians, developmental pediatricians, hospital nursing staff, medical genetic counselors and medical students. Other invited participants and guests include peer ministry providers, social service support professionals, advocates for persons with disabilities and public policy specialists.
Conference on Medical Advances in Prenatal Diagnoses
Saturday, January 21, 8:30 am 5 pm
Family Research Council, 801 G Street, NW, Washington DC
Register by clicking here or watch the webcast by clicking here.
Sponsored by: Medical Students for Life, Family Research Council, Keep Infants with Down Syndrome & Jerome Lejeune Foundation USA
- Alberto Costa, MD, Ph.D.
- Byron Calhoun, MD
- John Bruchalski, MD
- David Prentice, Ph.D.
- Gerard Nadal, Ph.D.
For more information, contact Jeanne Monahan at Family Research Council, firstname.lastname@example.org (202-637-4608) or Peg Kolm, at email@example.com (240-994-0603).
January 11, 2012
January has been declared National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. It’s timely that the seriousness of this issue is being recognized, as it is not only a global crisis but a growing problem here at home.
Thankfully, the mainstream media are picking up on the crisis of human trafficking in the U.S., which FRC highlighted in two events last year. In a gripping new report, Fox News states that “with increasing technology and the Internet, human trafficking has become more accessible and more anonymous.” Even the normally business-focused Forbes Magazine is informing its readers about “How To End Sex Trafficking and Human Slavery.”
As Fox reporter Elizabeth Prann notes, “Experts say, across the globe, millions of people are trafficked each year. Hundreds of thousands of the victims are women and girls. But what surprises many — is the rate it is happening in affluent neighborhoods where minors are being turned into sex slaves.”
According to Rob McKenna, Attorney General of Washington State and current president of the National Association of Attorneys General, “Human trafficking is a $32 billion global industry, the fastest growing and second largest criminal activity in the world, tied with arms and after drug dealing … I urge all Americans to educate themselves about all forms of modern slavery and the signs and consequences of human trafficking. Together, we will combat this crime within our borders and join with our partners around the world to end it.”
The problem is grave and the harm it inflicts so painful it is difficult to describe. However, there is good news - the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability lists 31 Evangelical ministries that seek to help girls and women enmeshed in the sex trade, and Catholic Charities has launched a major project to restore the victims of this horrible practice to well-being. You can link to both sites by visiting FRC’s RealCompassion.org web site.
Our Declaration of Independence argues that “all men are created equal,” a reflection of the Bible’s teaching that each person is made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Our Judeo-Christian moral heritage and the charter document of our country both affirm the dignity of each life, and that none should be used as a commodity or debased as a non-person. Let’s pray that our government and law enforcement officials, churches and ministries, and private charities will be effective in ridding America of this horrible practice. And, as we always say at FRC, the best guarantee of a good life - one in which girls are protected and given a healthy start - is a strong, loving, and worshipful family.
January 10, 2012
My Mainer friend, Bob Knight, called me last night with the news: our old colleague Tom Landess had died in South Carolina. He apparently suffered an aneurysm while watching a football game Sunday night. I hope it was Tim Tebows. Tom was a tireless laborer in the vineyard. A social conservative for decades, we was still in the harness at age eighty.
I had not seen Tom in ten years and had spoken to him only a few times since he returned to the sunny South. Tom joined our staff at the U.S. Department of Education in 1986. Thats when reporters, not so kindly, referred to that agency as Fort Reagan. I would joke we were all committed to disestablishing that department, as our brave president was. But if liberals in Congress would not let us do that, we should conduct ourselves so that they will wish they had never created it.
Shortly after meeting Tom, I started laughing. And never stopped. Like Shakespeares Falstaff, Tom was not only witty himself, but the occasion of wit in others. If you wanted to find him on the fourth floor of that dreary government building, you could just go down the hall, turn right, and follow the peals of laughter.
Very soon I learned that Tom was an American by birth and a Southerner by choice. He exemplified the best in the South. He told us endless stories of the Agrarians, an important literary school of the 1930s and 40s. But he sure could puncture the pieties. Hed tell you the whole story of Allan Tates writing of Stonewall Jackson, relating the almost worshipful feeling that Southerners have for that intrepid Presbyterian warrior. Then, hed catch you up by saying: Its not a very good book.
When Tom defended the flying of the rebel flag on the State House in South Carolina, I took issue with him. Tom argued passionately that it was Southern heritage that was being honored, not racism. I think Tom was entirely sincere. I remarked to Tom on the arrangement of flags atop the capitol in Columbia: U.S national ensign, then, bright blue and white flag of the Palmetto state, and, beneath them, the Confederate flag. Reminds me, I told Tom, of what Jefferson Davis said about his frustration in dealing with fractious state leaders. Davis said if the South lost the Civil War, its epitaph would read: Died of a theory.
With Tom you learned not to judge Southerners by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. He was the one who brought an aged Rev. Ralph David Abernathy around to meet all of us. Dr. Abernathy was Martin Luther Kings right-hand man in the civil rights movement. He was Kings successor in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Tom worked with Abernathy on his autobiography. Dr. Abernathy had been deeply wounded by all the vicious liberal attacks on him when he endorsed Ronald Reagan for president.
I will always remember Tom looking over my shoulder when the first word processors arrived in our offices. He watched disapprovingly as I labored to transfer my writing from the yellow legal pads I then used for drafting.
Dont do that, he said sternly. Write directly on the screen. I cant do that, I replied.
I think by writing, and I have to write it out longhand first.
You must train yourself to think as you write on the word processor. The device lets you revise and change at will. Think as you write! He said it with the air of command of a Stonewall Jackson. I was reminded that Jackson would shoot a shirker at the drop of a hat. And drop the hat himself.
I obeyed. And never went back. I will treasure the memory of this true Son of the South teaching a stubborn Yankee to use a devilish new machine in order to be more efficient. Jack Kennedy was right: Washington is a city of southern efficiency and northern charm.
My favorite Tom Landess story is of his Episcopal priest, Father Rogers. The preacher was talking about giving to the poor. It was a good sermon for his well-to-do parish. Afterward, over coffee, folks talked about how they would surely give to the deserving poor. Thats fine, said Father Rogers, but Ive found that the deserving poor dont stay poor. So I always give to the undeserving poor. Stunned, his parishioners asked the good father why. I give to the undeserving poor because I am undeserving poor.
Tom understood our need for grace and why it continues to amaze. I thank God for making Tom Landess my friend.
Family Research Council
January 10, 2012
At FRC we have been incredibly inspired by the outpouring of enthusiastic and creative submissions to our “I’m Pro-Life Because” campaign. There have been a number of truly remarkable and miraculous stories shared with us over the last few weeks.
We received one such story and image this past weekend. Sweet, energetic, bright three-year-old, Olivia Ohden, is holding a picture of her sonogram and is a vision of love and joy. The image is accompanied by the words “I’m Pro-life because my mom, Melissa Ohden, is an abortion survivor.”
In 1977 Olivia’s grandmother, Melissa Ohden’s mother, had a saline infusion abortion in a hospital in Iowa. After her mother delivered the baby, Melissa was believed to be dead. But miraculously, a nurse saw signs of life and this little baby who should have died at six months of gestation survived and thrived…
Listen to Melissa’s story
If you have not yet submitted your story, please consider doing so! Here’s how:
*1.* Pose in a picture with your ultrasound (or first newborn photo) or have your children pose with their first photo.
*2.* Let us know in 140 characters or less why you are Pro-Life!
*3.* Chose two words to describe each individual pictured (examples: Musician, Son or Painter, Mother). And include your age of your infant picture, or the week of the pregnancy in your ultrasound.
*4.* Submit your words and photos (one photo per person, please) via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the next few weeks, we will showcase these powerful images to show the uniqueness and value of every human life.
Be creative in telling your story in a single image! Gather your children to take a group picture with their own ultrasounds or newborn photos, or take fun pictures of them playing happily with their ultrasound photos nearby. Take your own photo with your ultrasound or infant picture while at work or doing a favorite activity or hobby.
Take the pictures in settings that portray what you love, and what your life means. Some of the more poignant photos will be featured in FRC publications and advertisements.
Entries, selected by FRC’s staff, will be featured on the FRC website and our other publications, including Facebook. By submitting photos and/or your story to FRC you are granting FRC a free license and permission to publish, republish, and distribute all or portions of your photos and story, including your words and image, in any format it may choose, including in print, on the Internet, or in any other digital form.
Thanks for standing for life!
Click here to view our “I’m Pro-Life Because…” gallery.
January 6, 2012
Praise needs to be given to recent work of the Young Americas Foundation. Ron Meyer and Nathan Harden of the foundation published an insightful op-ed in the Washington Times entitled Generation Y Asks Why Us?. The article begins by noting that President Obamas approval among the young has fallen by 30 percent. The authors believe that Americas youth are taking an economic beating. At FRC, we agree.
It isnt just that their unemployment rate is higher than that of any other group in the general populace, but the young are being subjected to record-smashing college debt levels. This is taking place while the national debt explodes. Youth employment stands at 17.4%, and college debt has reached $26,300 for the typical graduate. The national debt now stands about 100% of GDP 15 trillion dollars. More significantly in one sense: the interest payments alone are now equal to $3,000 per taxpayer.
Young Americas Foundation recognizes the economic problems facing the young and has developed a Youth Misery Index. The Index reflects a value for youth unemployment plus college debt levels and per capita national debt. This is a good idea, and I look forward to the Index’s release each year.
(One suggestion might be to adjust the national debt component to also reflect the finding of Reinhart and Rogoff (This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly) that debt levels above 90% of GDP have a detrimental effect on long-term growth and stability.)
Family Research Council
January 6, 2012
This month in 1950, Alger Hiss, an American lawyer and government official, and a Soviet spy, was convicted of perjury and sentenced to five years in prison. He was tried and convicted thanks to the efforts of Whittaker Chambers. A former communist himself, Chambers turned from what he later called the vision of Man without God and brought Hiss true political affiliations and allegiance to light. Chambers was one of our nations greatest anti-communists, and, as the author of Witness, has left a lasting mark on both conservatism and U.S. history.
Journalist and author Mark Judge is now teaming up with director Paul Moon to make a documentary about Chambers compelling and historic life.
Its a film that needs to be made for the same reasons that the works of Dante, St. Augustine and William F. Buckley (a friend of Chambers) need to be preserved, Judge said. Americas public schools and academia are certainly not interested in remembering the man who revealed Soviet espionage in the United States government.
Judge and Moons project, The Story of Whittaker Chambers, is currently competing for recognition and support at Indiewire.com. Each day Indiewire picks a Project of the Day to feature, and every week readers vote for one project to consult with an independent film website like SnagFilms or IndieGoGo. These Project of the Week winners compete to be the Project of the Month, and the winner gets to consult with the Sundance Institute, which runs the esteemed Sundance Film Festival. Voting is today, and its free. To support The Story of Whittaker Chambers, visit http://apps.facebook.com/my-polls/pomzh4m to vote.
And heres a poignant and applicable quote from Chambers that should resonate today: Economics is not the central problem of this century. It is a relative problem which can be solved in relative ways. Faith is the central problem of this age.