Month Archives: August 2010

The Media Hearts Embryonic Stem Cells

by David Prentice

August 23, 2010

The recent announcement of Geron receiving FDA approval to inject cells derived from embryonic stem cells into newly-injured spinal cord patients received great media fanfare:

Media response for Embryonic Stem Cells

Less than a week later, TCA Cellular Therapy announced they had already enrolled the first patient into their own FDA-approved clinical trial to treat spinal cord injury, using the patient’s own adult stem cells.

The media’s response?

Media response for Adult Stem Cells

Years ago, there was a similar response when scientists said they had a rat that limped less after embryonic stem cell injections, while about the same time Carlos Lima published his first paper showing improvement of human spinal cord injury patients using adult stem cells (a second paper has since been published showing even more patients responding well to adult stem cells.)

Adult stem cells may not be getting the media attention, but adult stem cells are helping spinal cord injury patients now.

Stem Cells for Parkinson’s Treatment

by David Prentice

August 23, 2010

Scientists at the Buck Institute in California have produced human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) and used them to improve the condition of a rat model of Parkinson’s disease. The human iPS cells were made using samples of normal cells from skin and blood, and then a four-step procedure used to specialize the cells into dopaminergic neurons, the type of neurons missing or damaged in Parkinson’s disease. Approximately 30% of the cells formed the desired neurons. When injected into rats that are a model of the disease, there was some improvement in the rats over a 12-week period. A previous study by MIT researchers used mouse iPS cells to improve a rat Parkinson model.

Senior author of the study published in the journal Stem Cells, Dr. Xianmin Zeng, said:

Human iPSCs may provide an end-run around immuno-rejection issues surrounding the use of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to treat disease. They may also solve bioethical issues surrounding hESCs.”

Adult stem cells have already shown success at treating Parkinson’s disease including adult stem cells from endometrial tissue and from nasal tissue, and a Parkinsons patients own neural adult stem cells ameliorated his symptoms for almost five years.

Smart” Adult Stem Cells Heal Hearts

by David Prentice

August 23, 2010

A group at the Mayo Clinic and their collaborators has published results showing that “guided” adult stem cells can effectively repair damaged heart tissue. The scientists isolated mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from the bone marrow of patients with coronary artery disease, “educated” the adult stem cells with a mixture of factors to stimulate growth as cardiac cells, and injected the cells into mice with damaged hearts. The hearts of the mice treated with the adult stem cells showed “superior functional and structural benefit without adverse side effects” over a 1-year follow-up. Compared to control mice, the hearts of the treated mice healed more effectively; with the human adult stem cells repairing and strengthening the hearts, including forming new heart cells. The paper is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

This new study provides another way to heal hearts with adult stem cells, perhaps increasing the efficiency of the treatment. Previous studies have already shown that bone marrow adult stem cells can effectively repair human hearts.

First Minutes of Life

by David Prentice

August 23, 2010

French scientists have used a new microscopic technique to observe the beginning of life, in this case of a zebrafish. The new technique, published in Science allows rapid capture of microscopic images, which can be stitched together to form videos. Nature”s blog has more details.

Here is one of the videos, showing the zebrafish from a one-cell embryo to the 512-cell stage.

Now if this is considered the “beginning of life” for a zebrafish, starting at the one-cell embryo stage, what does that say about the human embryo?

Left Waitin at the Station

by Robert Morrison

August 19, 2010

The National Portrait Gallery, across from my office in Washington, has a fine poster of President Barack Obama. He is shown wearing a rumpled fedora, riding in an open car, smiling that dazzling smile of his, and clenching a cigarette holder in his teeth at that same jaunty angle that was familiar to millions of Americans as that of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Every Democratic president tries to recap FDR.

I thought about that poster today as word of President Obamas most recent misery spread. It seems he has folks in Los Angeles in a fury about his recent fund-raising trip to the City of Angels. His motorcade held up traffic for hoursthe one thing you definitely do not want to do to harried California commuters.

This great city ought to be Obamas oyster. After all, he carried California by three million votes in 2008. But the president is increasingly getting raspberries wherever he goes.

Just last Friday night, he was speaking at an iftar dinner in the White House to a group of his Muslim admirers. I didnt even know they had iftar dinners in the White House. But he began his remarks in that deep and resonant tobacco baritone of his: Let me be clear… He proceeded to offer a very clear endorsement of building a mosque near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. His dinner guests applauded enthusiastically.

Next morning, the president began backpedaling furiously. He was not commenting on the wisdom of putting the mosque near the place where 3,000 Americans were murdered on 9/11, only on the Muslims constitutional right to build it. In other words: Let me be less clear. Let me try to lay down a smokescreen and beat a hasty retreat.

I can imagine Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) burning up the wires to the White House political operation after hearing that one. He is his partys campaign chairman for this fall. Are you trying to lose control of the House of Representatives, Van Hollen might have said.

The mosque at Ground Zero issue is a 70%-30% split. By a commanding margin, Americans do not want a mosque built near the site of the bloodiest attack yet on our homeland. Public officials who defy the people so heedlessly can expect to feel their wrath in the voting booths come November.

I have a recommendation for our beleaguered president: Do what FDR did. Show less of yourself. Yes, I know that was before the TV era. But Roosevelt knew that the mystery and aura of the presidency was enhanced by making presidential speeches and appearances less frequent. President Obama, like Bill Clinton before him, cannot resist being in our faces 24/7. Hasnt he ever heard the old saw familiarity breeds contempt?

One of my favorite political photographs is on sale at the store of the New York Times. Notice how the people are gathered on the train platform in Warm Springs, Georgia. Franklin D. Roosevelt is nowhere to be seen in this classic black and white picture. But his presence is felt.

Those hopeful, expectant Americans are excited at the prospect of seeing their elected chief.

Like all conservatives, I have serious questions about FDRs economic policies. And detailed study has shown me how seriously Roosevelt misjudged the threat of Communism. Still, as a political actor, he had no rivals.

An unapologetic Christian, Roosevelt never neglected religious minorities in this country. He faced down the bigots of his day who said his New Deal was actually a Jew Deal. FDR regularly worshiped in his Episcopal Church and his administration was not afraid to express an openly religious sentiment when fighting the Nazi menace.

The U.S. Government published this poster showing Nazis trying to destroy the Christian Bible. The Obama administration is afraid even to mention jihadist terrorists or speak of Muslim extremists.

The hope for change expressed by that Obama-as-FDR poster at the National Portrait Gallery seems to have faded. Now, the only common tie between our 32nd and 44th presidents is the cigarette smoke. And, tragically, that smoke probably killed Franklin Roosevelt.

Farewell to a great pro-life leader: Anne Higgins, R.I.P.

by Constance Mackey

August 17, 2010

This week, a pro-life hero went to be with her Lord Jesus Christ. Her name may not mean much to people born after the Roe v Wade decision came down from the Blackman Supreme Court, but she was one of the most effective fighters for life this country has known. Her name was Anne Higgins and she was Assistant to President Reagan, running a very large department in the White House. I was proud to have been on her staff and learned after my hiring that only those who shared a commitment to life were hired.

At a time when the media was dominated entirely by a biased, anti-Reagan cabal, her department of correspondence became the front line to the American public —- and Anne missed no opportunity to bring the President’s message on life to millions of people. Anne used her position to influence not only the President and his cabinet, but Congress and foreign dignitaries as well.

She was not a speaker, but her activism found success in building a pro-life movement. Her alliance with Congressman Henry Hyde, who was certainly an orator without par, provided the needed platform to launch the fight for those who could not speak for themselves. Anne showed us true activism and she never wavered on behalf of the innocent unborn, the infirm, and for creatures great and small. She made a difference in this world. To paraphrase Henry Hyde, she will be met at Heaven’s gate by millions of babies yet unborn who will carry the message, “job well done…good and faithful servant.”

Two Articles of Note: One on Ella, One on Orwell and Religious Freedom

by Chris Gacek

August 17, 2010

Two important articles have been published in the last twenty-four hours. Former FRC staffer, Michael Fragoso, has written an excellent article providing background information on the new contraceptive and RU-486-like abortifacient Ella (ulipristal). Fragosos analysis of how Ella may change the dynamic of the chemical abortion market including federal funding for it — appears on the website of Princeton Universitys Witherspoon Institute. Go here.

Second, Robert Knight, senior writer for Coral Ridge Ministries, describes the Orwellian redefinition of marriage and reality that those like Judge Vaughn Walker (Prop 8/California) are attempting to force on America. In a Washington Times op-ed, Knight observes: Creating counterfeits and then forcing them down peoples throats is straight out of George Orwells Newspeak in 1984. He then describes the varieties of compulsion that will be needed to compel the new thinking:

To enforce this direct assault on common sense and Gods building block of civilization will require all sorts of tyranny. Dissent will be crushed. Institutions will be denied funds. Firings will occur. Academics will face star chambers (that is, more star chambers). Governments at all levels will turn into battering rams against pastors, churchgoers, observant Jews and others who value truth above political correctness. In Boston and the District of Columbia, gay marriage drove Catholic Charities, the largest provider of homes for orphans, out of the adoption business. Massachusetts schools now teach kindergarteners through picture books that two men constitute a marriage. A father who objected was jailed. Orphans, kindergarteners and protective fathers, it seems, are just collateral damage to social engineers.

Judge Vaughns opinion, more than anything, is an assault upon truth and reality. If the federal courts mandate that this new reality be accepted, then as Orwell once said telling the truth will indeed become a revolutionary act.

James Jackson Kilpatrick, 1920-2010

by Robert Morrison

August 17, 2010

James Jackson Kilpatrick, known as Kilpo to his many friends, has passed away. The news was not surprising but still jarred me. I remember him well. Its not as if I really knew him. But I remembered all my life his lecture to a group of young college students at University of Virginia.

We were gathered in Newcomb Halls ballroom—our idea of an elegant location—to hear the famous editor of the Richmond News Leader. I now realize that Kilpatrick was only 43 when he spoke to us. It seemed he was decades older. He was one of those people who seems to have been 50 when he was born.

The time was Thursday night, November 21, 1963. I recall he was putting forward some bizarre idea of everyone voting for independent electors in the upcoming presidential election as a way to throw the election into the House of Representatives. Kilpatrick did not like President Kennedy and hoped he would be defeated. Many of us in the room knew that we would be too young to vote for or against Kennedy in 1964—the Twenty-sixth Amendment having not yet been passed. But that did not mean we werent keenly interested.

As soon as he finished his erudite but puzzling talk, hands shot up. Whom would the Republicans nominate in 1964? Sen. Barry Goldwater, Kilpatrick confidently predicted.

As a New Yorker, I thought that was odd. We were told daily by the New York Times that Richard Nixon was all washed up and that Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, the undisputed emperor of the Empire State was the obvious Republican choice. (The Times favorite idea of a presidential contest was a liberal Democrat versus a liberal Republican.)

Then, someone asked Mr. Kilpatrick who the Democratic nominee in 1964 would be. We laughed. It was a ridiculous question. President Kennedy was then sailing along with an approval rating in the high 60s. He had just gone eyeball to eyeball with Khrushchev over the Cuban Missile Crisis and, as one of his top aides said, the other guy blinked.

Kilpatrick answered curiously. The Democratic nominee, if hes alive, will be John Kennedy.

If hes alive? President Kennedy, at 46, was tanned and relaxed, the very picture of sunny good health. He had vigah, or so we thought.

The next day, at noon in Dallas, President Kennedy was assassinated. I could not get out of my mind James Jackson Kilpatricks strange answer from the night before: If hes alive… I wonder how many of the young students in that room that night might have given credence to all the conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination. Why would Mr. Kilpatrick have said something so odd? Did he have some knowledge of what was to come?

Of course not. Kilpatrick the savvy journalist knew what many reporters knew: Jack Kennedy was actually a very sick man. He needed constant medication to cope with Addisons Disease, a life threatening illness.

Fortunately, no one ever fingered Kilpatrick for what he said to us that night. I could never watch James Jackson Kilpatrick on television as his career took off, however, without remembering that weird scene.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Kilpo was a familiar figure to millions of Americans from his Point/CounterPoint segment on CBS televisions popular 60 Minutes news show. Kilpatrick was put forward as the conservative voice on everything. He was often placed in opposition to Shana Alexander or Nicholas von Hoffman.

I must admit, I dismissed most of what he said, even the stuff I agreed with. Thats because I knew Kilpatrick as a segregationist—probably the leading segregationist intellectual in the country. I wanted no part of that.

Also, Kilpatrick seemed forever out of sorts. He was one of those people who was weaned on a pickle. His clashes with Shana or Nicholas didnt make me agree with them, but they put me away from him, to be sure.

Michael Deaver tells us in his memoirs how CBS offered to make Ronald Reagan their conservative spokesman. Deaver had just inked a deal with the Mutual Broadcasting Company for Reagan to do three-minute radio commentaries. But when CBS television reached out with its offer of tens of millions of nightly viewers, Deaver jumped at it.

No, said Ronald Reagan. Weve just signed a contract with Mutual. Theyve been good to us.

And besides, I dont think people will get tired of me on radio. Reagan knew radio. Reagan knew the movies. Reagan knew television. He wasnt called the Great Communicator for nothing. TV is catnip to Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

So CBS gave America James Jackson Kilpatrick as the face of conservatism. And America grew tired of him. It showed the power of the liberal news media to control not only their own message, but to choose who would be allowed to speak for their opposition.

When Reagan ran for president, he offered a conservatism with a smiling face. Sunny, optimistic,

hopeful, Reagan did for conservatism what Franklin D. Roosevelt did for liberalism. It was the brainy Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes who described FDR as a second-rate mind, but a first-rate temperament.

People tried to put down Ronald Reagan, too. Liberals called him an amiable dunce. But Reagan knew they looked down on the American people, as well, so he didnt care. He learned in Hollywood, he said, the difference between the critics and the box office.

Happily for his memory, James Jackson Kilpatrick grew to reject as evil his early vocal support for segregation. But for all his talk about the Supreme Court and judicial tyranny, he never understood the worst example of raw judicial power —- Roe v. Wade. And maybe, in his own way, he enhanced Reagans appeal. After years of watching Kilpatricks sour pickle conservatism, Reagans was all ice cream. May Kilpo rest in peace.

President Obama’s assault on Americans’ first freedom

by Jared Bridges

August 16, 2010

CNN’s Belief Blog has published FRC President Tony Perkins’ op-ed today on the effect the current administration has had on religious freedom in America:

President Obama has shifted centuries of U.S. diplomatic parlance. We no longer speak of freedom of religion; now, it is only freedom of worship that our government defends.

This is a radical departure, one that threatens to make true religious liberty vulnerable, conditional and limited. As some have said, it is a freedom “only within four walls.” That is, you are free to worship within the four walls of your home, church or synagogue, but when you enter the public square or go abroad, leave your religion at home.

In international forums, President Obama and Secretary Clinton repeatedly have retreated to this “freedom of worship” formulation. This is no accident.

Read the rest at CNN

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