March 9, 2009

Via Mary Katharine Ham: ‘The WaPo’s Obama Hit Parade’

Filed under: Economy,News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:04 pm

Her post at the Weekly Standard blog is here.

Her links: Ouch (Robert Samuelson). Ouch (WaPo editorial). And ouch (E.J. Dionne).

On Stem Cells, Chris Smith Lays It Out: Adult Stem Cells Win, Life-Destroying Embryonic Research Is an Immoral Waste

Filed under: Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:46 am

The debate over the short- and long-term efficacy of ethical baggage-free adult stem cells vs. life-destroying embryonic cells is a real example of a scientific debate that might as well be over. Adult stem cells (also referred to as repair stem cells) win.

Given that factual situation, it’s difficult to refute Chris Smith’s serious charge last week, as reported by the Catholic News Agency (bolds are mine):

Mar 7, 2009 / 08:04 am

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) has criticized human embryo-destroying stem cell research, saying it is unethical, “unworkable and unreliable” and now “demonstrably unnecessary” in light of recent advances. He charged that President Obama and some Congressmen “still don’t get it” about the breakthroughs involving adult stem cell research.

Rep. Smith also accused the Obama administration and the Democratic leadership of being “obsessed with killing human embryos for experimentation at taxpayer expense.”

Leading a Special Order of Members of Congress who are opposed to human embryonic stem cell research (ESCR), Rep. Smith made his comments on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday.

“Recent spectacular breakthroughs in noncontroversial adult stem cell research and clinical applications to effectuate cures with the mitigation of disease or disability have been well documented,” he said, remarking on the “significant progress” achieved with adult stem cells.

According to the Congressional Record, he said that his legislation helped establish a nationwide network to collect umbilical cord blood and the placenta from childbirths, which has borne fruit in treating leukemia and sickle cell anemia.

“Adult stem cells, Madam Speaker, are truly remarkable. They work, they have no ethical baggage, and advances are made every day at a dizzying pace,” he said.

He noted scientists Shinya Yamanaka and James Thomson’s development of a process that uses viruses to transform skin cells into pluripotent, embryo-like stem cells called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.

Rep. Smith also referred to research teams from the United Kingdom and Canada who have announced they have successfully reprogrammed ordinary skin cells into iPS skin cells without the use of viruses. He then quoted the U.K. team’s leading scientist, who told the BBC the procedure might even eliminate the need for human embryos as a source of stem cells.

“Pluripotent stem cells are those miraculous building block cells that can be coaxed into becoming any type of tissue found in the human body,” Rep. Smith explained.

“Unlike embryonic stem cells that kill the donor, are highly unstable, have a propensity to morph into tumors and are likely to be rejected by the patient unless strong anti-rejection medicines are administered, induced pluripotent cells, stem cells, have none of those deficiencies and are emerging as the future, the greatest hope of regenerative medicine.

….. He quoted several of James Thomson’s comments, in which the University of Wisconsin researcher said the embryonic stem cell debate will be a “funny historical footnote” and characterized new adult stem cell research advances as “probably the beginning of the end of the controversy over embryonic stem cells.”

It should be the “end of the end” of any controversy over funding embryonic research. Because adult stem cells can do anything embryonic cells might (in theory, supposedly, some day) do in curing and/or mitigating human disease, life-destroying embryonic research shouldn’t be done. That it apparently will be, despite “the settled science,” to use the debate-stifling language of the globalarmists, makes Smith’s charge against President Obama and the congressional majority’s leadership presumptively valid.

Addendum: Less than two years ago, I predicted in this comment that adult stem cells would eclipse embryonics in 5-10 years (bold applied now is mine):

Write it down: 5 years, even 10 years from now, ESCR will still be almost nothing but promise, while other SCR will at a minimum have done another 5-10 years of blocking and tackling, and may itself achieve all the breakthroughs Hail Mary black-hole ESCR promises — *someday*. That would include pluripotency, as there are beyond-early indications that ASCRs can be trained to be pluripotent. If realized, that achievement would, and should, consign life-taking ESCR to the ash heap of history.

I was wrong in estimating that it would take as long as 5-10 years. I’m (obviously) not sorry that this turned out to be the case. I’m only sorry that I underestimated scientists’ and other researchers’ ability to so quickly prove that God provides us ethical and moral ways to overcome our problems if we only demonstrate a little patience. It is clear to me that He did so just in time to make it obvious to all who will see just how misguided — and, yes, just how objectively evil — a move to apply federal taxpayer dollars to the immoral alternative really is.

We also owe a large debt of thanks to George W. Bush for keeping federal dollars away from life-killing and clearly unproductive embryonic research during his term in office.

Speaking of debts, let’s not forget that somebody promised me a few beers when (he thought if) I was shown to be right. But if he wants to weasel out (my guess: he will) do just that), that’s okay, because if I do collect on the bet, I’ll have to run to confession to ask for forgiveness for stealing.

Positivity: McKenzies share miraculous healing, giving God glory

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Tennessee:

An 8-year-old boy who has been unable to go to school for over three months is going back next month.

His parents, who naturally feared the worst when doctors told them Jonathan had a tumor on his spine, have replaced worry with gratitude and give credit to God for what they say is a miracle they witnessed firsthand. Actually more than one.

Jonathan, his father Steve explained, had been suffering from neck pain for over a year, usually after having played for a lengthy time on his video game system. Steve and Faye would ask Jonathan to lie down and rest for a while, and the pain seemed to go away.

But one day when a nurse friend was at their home, the McKenzies told her about the problem. After looking at Jonathan’s neck she advised them to see his pediatrician.

Following some x-rays, the family was sent to Children’s Hospital in Knoxville for further tests. That same night, they got a call that an appointment had been made for them to travel to Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville. “Your son has a tumor,” they remember the doctor telling them.

The doctor’s prognosis

It was there in Nashville they met Dr. Ginger Holt and where they were also relieved to find out that there was a 99.9 percent chance Jonathan’s tumor wasn’t cancerous.

It wasn’t, further testing revealed. The McKenzies learned Jonathan had an aneurysmal bone cyst that was growing in toward the spinal cord instead of out, like most cases. It was actually wrapped around the cord, Steve said, and also a major artery.

“There were two major areas of concern,” Steve said. “Bleeding because of the artery and the possibility of injury to the spinal cord and possible paralysis.”

Holt told the family that surgery would be risky, but it was the only option they had. A date was set to remove the tumor, and doctors told Faye and Steve they would have to fuse three of Jonathan’s vertebrae together while also removing the invasive tumor.

“We were told the tumor had grown so long that it had prevented the C-4 vertebrae from growing,” Steve explained. It would not be strong enough to support his neck after surgery.”

Through all of this, the McKenzies relied on their faith in God and the support of other members of the Christian community. The family attends Freedom Freewill Baptist Church in Friendsville and Jonathan was placed on several prayer lists.