Month Archives: October 2010

California Dreamin Reality on Stem Cells II

by David Prentice

October 22, 2010

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) again seems to realize that adult stem cells have a distinct advantage over embryonic stem cells, including the best opportunity of helping patients. CIRM is spending $3 billion of California taxpayers money (a $6 billion payback with the interest) on stem cell research. Their reason for existence originally was to fund embryonic stem cell and cloning research.

This week they approved funding for 19 grants worth $67 million; the funding is “its second round of awards designed to move good ideas out of the lab and into the clinic.” (A complete list of applications including those not funded is posted.)

Only 5 of the 19 funded grants involve embryonic stem cells. Zero grants on cloned embryos.

Last year the CIRM funded 14 “Disease Research Team” grants designed to move to the clinic, with only 4 of the 14 grants used embryonic stem cells, and zero grants on cloned embryos.

The funding continues to emphasize the pragmatism noted by CIRM president Alan Trounson:

If we went 10 years and had no clinical treatments, it would be a failure.”

Trounson has recently said that CIRM provides the “most significant source” of dollars available for hESC research in the U.S.

More funds for adult stem cells is welcome news, since adult stem cells are saving lives and improving health of thousands of patients now.

David Aikman Finds Jesus in Beijing

by Robert Morrison

October 22, 2010

TIME Magazines former Asian Bureau Chief, David Aikman, addressed a packed lecture room at the U.S. Naval Academy this week. His topic: Jesus in Beijing. He led off with a remarkable story, one that would be unlikely to appear in TIME Magazine today. In TIME past, however, the national newsweeklys founder, Henry Luce, would have jumped on this story, since he was from a family of Christian missionaries to China.

Prof. Aikman described a group of eighteen tired U.S. tourists in China. They had spent long days re-tracing missionary routes. Finally, they were brought to Beijing for a lecture by a senior scholar of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Tired and not a little bored, they werent sure they were up for a long and tedious lecture. But, this one was different. The Chinese secular scholar said they had studied the West, seeking the source of its predominance. We did not find it in your guns, your wealth, even your natural resources. We find the secret in your religion: We believe Christianity is central to the rise of the West.

Dr. Aikman puckishly pointed out that you have to go to Beijing, halfway around the world, to hear a secular academic speaking for what is, officially at least, an atheist, Communist regime to get the truth. He did not think a reporter for the New York Times

would agree with that statement.

Aikman said that huge numbers of Chinese are converting to Christianity. One of his friends, ironically an editorial writer for the official party organ, The Peoples Daily,

Predicts that within 20 years, between 25 and 30% of all Chinese will be Christians.

But, warns Dr. Aikman, it may not happen. People have made careers out of being wrong about China. My friend Steve Mosher, who was kicked out of Stanford for his reporting on forced abortions in rural China, goes further. Steve says that if you are an engineer, and every bridge you design collapses with thousands of people killed, you lose your P.E., your Professional Engineers certificate. But if youre a China scholar, and you manage to overlook the deaths of millions of people, you get tenure.

Prof. Aikman shows the horrific consequences of Mao Zedongs communist revolution. Between 42 and 47 million Chinese died in the Great Leap Forward of the 1950s. Thats when Chairman Mao thought it would be swell for everyone to make steel in his own backyard.

During the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, beginning in 1966, all houses of worship were closed. People were harassed, many even killed, for owning a Bible or a Koran. But the Cultural Revolution did something else: It destroyed the Chinese peoples belief in the legitimacy of the Communist Party.

Aikman says he searched and searched during his years in China and could find only five Chinese among the party cadres who actually believed in Marxism-Leninism. With China, though, as anywhere, a philosophical vacuum cannot exist. Something will take its place.

For millions, says Dr. Aikman, who is today a distinguished professor at Patrick Henry College, that vacuum is being filled by Christianity. He related an amazing story of young Chinese Christians, averaging 19 years old, being sent out, two by two, all over rural China. Shunned in some of the cities, they nonetheless found a receptive audience among the Chinese peasantry.

Has anything like this ever been witnessed in the Middle Kingdom before? Dr. Aikman knows his Chinese history well. Yes, he says. He cites the 16th Century Italian Catholic priest, Matteo Ricci. Fr. Ricci, a Jesuit, astonished his Chinese friends with his amazing intellectual gifts. He could hear a 20-line Tang Dynasty poem once and repeat it verbatim.

For Protestants, Robert Morrison an English missionary of the early 19th Century is a cherished memory. (He is no relation, although I wish he were.) Another revered missionary was Hudson Taylor. He went to China as a young man, determined to live and work among the Chinese people, not among the wealthy merchants and powerful military and diplomatic elites of the British Treaty Ports in China. Taylor founded China Inland Missions, one of the greatest tools for the spread of the Gospel. Taylor famously said:

China is not to be won for Christ by quiet, ease-loving men and women

Is that not equally true of America, Britain or France? Reading about Hudson Taylor, we are reminded of Patrick, the Evangelist of the Irish. Patrick risked his life daily, as do threatened missionaries throughout the world today.

Even today, there is danger and resistance in China. Some Communist Party cadres welcome Christians because they want sober, hard-working, obedient people in their regions. Other party chiefs are equally determined to enforce Chinas brutal forced abortion practices and put down all resistance to Beijings authority. They want to stamp out these Jesus Nests.

We can all take inspiration from the teaching of such a great writer and scholar as David Aikman. And we can resolve to make our homes, our schools, our workplaces Jesus Nests.

The Social Conservative Review: The Insider’s Guide to Pro-Family News—October 21, 2010

by Krystle Gabele

October 21, 2010

Click here to subscribe to The Social Conservative Review

Dear Friends,

Welcome to this edition of the Social Conservative Review. This week, in addition to our usual compilation of articles and stories relevant to conservatives, we want to highlight a recent debate in which FRC Special Counsel and Director of the Center for Religious Liberty, Ken Klukowski, participated at the University of Michigan School of Law.

A frequent lecturer at law schools around the country, in these debates Ken makes a compelling case that Left-wing activist groups lack standing to bring lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of prayer at public functions. Click here to listen to Ken debate UM law professor Don Herzog on this important religious liberty issue.

Family Research Council is working to advance and protect religious liberty for all Americans. That’s our ongoing and unwavering commitment to you and your family. Thank you for standing with us.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder

Sr. Vice President, Family Research Council


Watch FRC’s important new Webcast on the danger imposed by upcoming tax increases, ‘The Taxman Cometh,’ featuring FRC President Tony Perkins, Congressmen Tom Price and Jim Jordan, and leading tax and fiscal policy experts.


Educational Freedom and Reform

Environmental Issues

Faith and Policy

Health Care

Homosexuals in the Military

Judiciary

Marriage and Family

Family Economics

Marriage

Pornography

Religious Liberty

Sanctity of Life

Abortion

Adoption

Bioethics

Cloning

Stem Cell Research

Articles by Dr. David Prentice

Other Stem Cell Research Articles

Other News for Social Conservatives

The World Turned Upside Down — Or, Why Americans Dont Bow to Kings

by Robert Morrison

October 19, 2010

Siege de Yorktown by Auguste Couder, c.1836. Rochambeau and Washington giving their last orders before the battle.The red-coated army band played The World Turned Upside Down as they marched out of their entrenchments. They were about to surrender to the victorious American and French forces at Yorktown, Virginia. The British army commander, Lord Charles Cornwallis, had been trapped with his back to the York River for three weeks.

When the French fleet under Admiral Comte de Grasse defeated the British fleet in the Battle of the Capes, Cornwallis escape hatch was slammed shut. The surrender ceremony for Cornwallis army took place on this day, October 19, 1781. Gen. George Washingtons Yorktown victory effectively ended the six-year American Revolutionary War.

To be sure, we date our independence from the signing of the great Declaration. Our countrys birthday is rightly July 4, 1776. But without Washingtons military success against British and Hessian forces, the Fourth of July might have been only a stumper question in a British Commonwealth game of Trivial Pursuit.

The Declaration that Congress approved, as drafted by Thomas Jefferson, with some amendment, contained lofty ideals and immortal words, to be sure, but that Declaration required men brave enough to risk their lives in order to give it force. Gen. Washington, Gen. Lafayette, Gen. Rochambeau, and a combined force of Americans and French soldiers were just brave enough to give it force.

Giving it force is what happened on this day 229 years ago. From that time, America has been free of kings, free of the need to bow down before any hereditary monarchs, free at last.

No small part of why President Obamas bowing to various foreign despots—-like the odious King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia—-is so disturbing is that it demonstrates his lack of understanding of his own countrys history.

Britains Winston Churchill knew Americas history better than Barack Obama does. Thats why Churchill called us the Great Republic.

Does it really matter in the modern world whether or not a President knows his countrys history? Well, yes. First, Barack Obama like every new President hopes to be a great one. No President-elect ever tells an interviewer My model for my administration will be Franklin Pierce. Millard Fillmore has very few fans, even in his home state of New York.

The fact is: weve never had a great President who was not steeped in U.S. history. President Franklin D. Roosevelt rode with Prime Minister Winston Churchill to George Washingtons home at Mount Vernon on New Years Day, 1942. The U.S. had just joined Britain in what they agreed to call the Second World War. You would think FDR and Winston would have bigger things on their minds than a tourist attraction.

But Roosevelt knew that millions of Americans still harbored strong anti-British sentiments. With his acute sense of history, he knew that it would help with U.S. public opinion for the British Prime Minister to be seen laying a wreath on the tomb of George Washington. And so they did.

Second, the National Archives Building, down the street from FRCs Washington headquarters, tells us the past is prologue. In other words, American history did not begin on January 20, 2009. The National Archives Building contains the recordsin words carved in stoneof the Glory and Romance of our History.

President Obama has said Brits think their country is exceptional. So do the Greeks. So do the Belgians. Therefore, if America is exceptional, we are no more exceptional than any other country. Thats what Barack Obama thinks.

American history proves that concept wrong. President Reagan used to challenge skeptical foreign students. The United States after World War II had an army and navy of twelve million. We had the only atomic bomb in the world. Ours was the only country that had suffered virtually no destruction at home.

Yet the only territory we asked for were the cemeteries in France and Belgium where we buried our dead. Could you say that of the USSR? Or of any other country that had just forced its enemies to surrender unconditionally?

Or, consider President Lincoln visiting the Confederate White House on April 4, 1865. Jefferson Davis, the Southern leader, had fled just hours before. Lincoln walked through the smoldering streets of Richmond, Virginia. He understood that anyone could have shot him from any second story window. Yet, fearless, he went there. And just as fearlessly he said of the defeated rebels: Let `em up easy.

A crowd of freed slaves surrounded him, cheering and praying, offering praises to God, and singing a powerful hymn:

Oh, all ye people clap your hands,

And with triumphant voices sing;

No force the mighty power withstands

Of God, the universal King.

Lincoln was deeply moved, as was the tiny band of U.S. sailors who formed his honor guard. One elderly black man approached the President and bowed down before him.

The President gently reprimanded him: Dont kneel to me. That is not right. You must kneel to God only, and thank Him for the liberty you will hereafter enjoy. I am but Gods humble instrument; but you may rest assured that as long as I live no one shall put a shackle on your limbs, and you shall have all the rights which God has given to every other free citizen of this Republic.

Such a scene could have occurred in no other country on earth. It is one of the hundreds of reasons America is exceptional. Here, we kneel to God alone. Thats another reason to remember and be grateful for Yorktown Day.

Prosecutors Ask Court to Acquit Geert Wilders

by Chris Gacek

October 18, 2010

From the “Gates of Vienna” blog — one finds a story that has received very little attention in the United States: on Friday, October 15th, Amsterdam prosecutors asked a court to acquit Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, of the charge of incitement to hatred against Muslims. The case has tested the bounds of freedom of speech in Europe. However, according Wilders’ website the case is not over:

But his trial continues: the prosecutors decision is not final. A judge will issue a ruling on November 5, and he doesnt have to follow the prosecutors recommendations. So the freedom of speech still hangs in the balance in the Netherlands, as well as in Europe and the West in general.

Stay tuned for further developments, but this is a good sign. Previously, the same prosecutors had told the court that Wilders was not guilty of insulting Muslims — something for which had also been charged. (Apparently, the prosecutors have asked that all charges be dismissed.)

Parents and Patients Welcome Maryland Cord Blood Bank

by David Prentice

October 17, 2010

This past week saw the launch of the first public cord blood program in Maryland. The free program was launched October 11, 2010, at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore in partnership with Community Blood Services of New Jersey. Women giving birth at Mercy will be given the option of donating their babies’ umbilical-cord blood to be listed on the National Marrow Donor Program registry for use by patients in need of life-saving transplants.

This new collaboration is the culmination of a years research and planning by the Maryland Catholic Conference to identify partnerships between Maryland hospitals and blood banks across the United States. St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore will be joining the partnership soon and additional Catholic hospitals in Maryland may form other partnerships in the near future.

Umbilical cord blood is rich in non-controversial adult stem cells that can be used to successfully treat dozens of diseases, including sickle cell anemia. Thomas R. Mullen, Mercy’s president and CEO, said there are tens of thousands of people around the world who need stem-cell transplants. One of the major goals of Mercy’s involvement in the partnership is to increase the number of cord blood donors who are African-American and who are underrepresented in the donor population. That will help people like Joseph Davis, Jr.

Cord blood donation has already helped little Mason Shaffer. Mason and his parents were on hand to celebrate the opening of the cord blood bank at Mercy Medical Center. Mason had been diagnosed with a severe bone disease, osteopetrosis. His life was saved through a transplant of adult stem cells obtained from umbilical-cord blood donated to a public collecting bank. His mother, Sarah Shaffer, says “He’s cured. He’s completely normal. For me, it’s exhilarating.” Organizers of the new cord blood bank believe it has the potential to save the lives of many children and adults like Mason.

Adult stem cell research is far ahead of embryonic stem cells. With over 50,000 adult stem cell transplants each year taking place around the globe, we need to focus on the patients first. Cord blood banks like the new one in Maryland are one of the answers.

A Window Into Barack Obamas Theology

by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 15, 2010

During the presidential campaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama famously told Pastor Rick Warren that determining when human personhood began was above my paygrade.

A professing Christian, he could not bring himself to concur with the plain teaching of the Bible that from the moment of conception, human life in all its biological fullness begins at conception.

An educated man, he could not sufficiently evaluate the clear scientific evidence that with the entire DNA any person ever possesses present within the embryo from conception onward, personhood starts at conception.

A father, he could not affirm that his precious daughters deserved legal protection in their mothers womb, from conception until birth.

Since then, his income must have dramatically changed, as he has initiated a nationwide health care mandate that funds and subsidizes abortion-on-demand, exported abortion overseas through American funding thereof, and even sought to have taxpayers subsidize abortion on our military bases.

As President of the United States, Barack Obama has been a deliberate, systematic evangelist of the culture of death.

Yet despite his professed theological mystification regarding the sanctity of unborn life, President Obama has no moral or intellectual difficulty in asserting that homosexuality is not a choice but the result of people being born with a certain make-up.

At a televised event targeting the nations youth,

… (when) asked directly if gay or transgender people have a choice or are born that way, Obama told a town-hall style event with students that he was no expert, then added: I don’t think it’s a choice. I think people are born with a certain make-up.

We’re all children of God, Obama said. We don’t make determinations about who we love. That’s why I think discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is wrong.

The President is wrong: Biology offers no sanction to the view that homosexuality is genetic, nor does Christian theology applaud or passively accept same-sex intimacy. The God of love is also the God of truth Whose Word teaches that any kind of sexual intimacy other than that experienced by a man and a woman within marriage is offensive to Him.

No pay-level is needed to affirm these things: They are obvious from science and Scripture.

President Obama might be, as the Leftist religious commentator Jim Wallis asserts, almost a public theologian. He is just not a very biblically faithful one.

The Bible tells Christians to pray for their political leaders. This includes, of course, President Obama. May we pray that this man who so obviously cherishes his own wonderful family sees that abortion and homosexuality are not morally neutral choices to be facilitated by a government founded on the principle that the right to life is a gift of the Creator.

Adult Stem CellsBest-Kept Secret, Treating Juvenile Diabetes

by David Prentice

October 15, 2010

Adult stem cells have already shown amazing progress treating Type I (juvenile) diabetes, as Dr. Jean Peduzzi Nelson noted in her September Senate testimony. As reported in 2009 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 20 of 23 patients became insulin-independent after treatment with their own bone marrow adult stem cells. The authors note in the paper that this adult stem cell treatment remains the only treatment capable of reversing type 1 diabetes in humans.” Their initial success with this adult stem cell treatment had been published in 2007; some patients are still insulin-independent.

Jaider Abbud, a young dental surgeon in Brazil, is one of the first patients ever to be treated for Type I Diabetes using adult stem cells (Jaider, on the right, is pictured with Dr. Julio Voltarelli, one of the doctors who treated him.) He was testing his blood and taking multiple insulin shots every day. In a talk he gave on Capitol Hill in 2007, a year after his treatment, Jaider described his diagnosis and life with juvenile diabetes, and how he hadn’t taken insulin or any medication since receiving his adult stem cell transplant.

See more examples of how adult stem cells, validated by published science, are helping thousands of patients with dozens of diseases right now.

On our first meeting with Elfanents

by Robert Morrison

October 14, 2010

I had the ineffable joy of introducing our 20-month old grandson to the Washington Zoo this past weekend. We had talked to him about all the wonderful animals he might see there. Gorillas and orangutans, the famous panda, lions and tigers, all of these could be seen just an hour from our Annapolis home. The zoo is free, but it costs to park. For the people of Washington, however, this wonder is just a short Metro hop from downtown.

When Congress is in recess, as it is now, the zoo is the best show in town.

We have a tradition in our family, one shared with me by my dear, late seventh grade civics teacher. Whenever you do something for the first time, Joe Zeichner taught, you should say a shehechayanu, an ancient Hebrew prayer. We do the English version:

Blessed art Thou, O Lord

Master of the Universe

That Thou hast preserved us in life

To savor this experience for the first time.

Taking a little boy on his first trip to the zoo is an experience to savor. I didnt know that otters make a chirping sound, did you? Luke the lion was out on a rise, sunning himself in all his majesty. He didnt look at us straight on, but showed only his noble profile. He seemed quite satisfied with himself. He hadnt brought down any gnus or wildebeest for the prides dinner. But he had welcomed two litters of his own lion cubs last summer.

Seven little lions in one year! I was on leave from my job, so I restrained myself from any comments about Washington, D.C. and its failure to defend monogamy.

The biggest attraction of the day, of course, was the visit to the elephants. Our grandson was primed. We had been talking to him for months about elephantsor, as he calls them, elfanents. He was go excited that he greeted us by putting his hand up above his nose and trumpeting an elephant sound.

During his last visit to our home with his loving parents, I had the privilege of showing him the video of Ella of the Elephants. Its a classic documentary of an African elephant herd studied in the 1990s. Ella is the matriarch of the herd. (I had to fast forward past the part where Ella is about to become a mother again.)

We see her calf, Eli, born after 22 months in the womb, and weighing in at more than the average newborns 260 pounds. Eli was so big, so cramped for so long that the tendons in his front legs seem not to stretch. We watch and are instantly drawn to this young creatures plight. He walks, but only painfully on his front knees. If he cannot stretch up to nurse from Ella, he will wither and die.

We are told that the animal kingdom is all red in tooth and claw. Its survival of the fittest out there, you know. Natures way is best, and all that. So we are half expecting the herd to walk off and leave Eli to the hyenas and the buzzards.

They do no such thing. All the senior elephants gather around Eli and encourage him, caressing him with their trunks. They walk to the water, but very slowly, allowing ample time for Eli to hobble along on his knees.

Soon, miraculously, we see him stretching out his legs. No wonder he couldnt stretch them out in the womb. This is one tall young elephant. In a few days, Eli can run with the herd. He has not been abandoned.

When Ella and the herd come upon the skeletons of other elephants, the victims of poachers who killed them for their ivory tusks, we see an amazing scene. Several of the elephants hold the skulls of the dear departed. They seem to be trying to communicate with their dead. Its as if they know whose skull it is.

Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well, Horatio, Shakespeare has his Hamlet tell his friend.

Yoricks skull brings back many happy memories to the young prince of Denmark.

Im sure that animal behaviorists will explain it all away. But Im stunned by these great animals tenderness toward one of their own kind. They seem unwilling to give up the memory of a beloved friend. And what memories these elephants have!

Sharing elfanents with our grandson forms a bond across the generations in our family.

My late dad, Leslie Morrison, was rescued during World War II when his ship was torpedoed. He and his shipmates were brought ashore in South Africa.

That 1943 rescue may have been the first time my father saw these greatest of all land animals. I do know that Pop never tired of watching African elephants on television.

Seeing how much these animals loved and protected each other, seeing especially how they nurtured their youngest members, I gained a new appreciation for my dad. He had been orphaned at six years old.

Maybe thats why he was so devoted to us. From the day he returned from the sea until the day he died some forty-six years later, we knew where he was every night of his life.

To him, we were his herd, his love. And now, I thank God I get to share that kind of love with my own descendants.

Twins Socialize in the Womb

by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 13, 2010

As the father of twins, this story about how twins socialize in the womb caught my eye. It is noteworthy that if unborn children can socialize —- if they are, in fact, “people,” as noted in the last line of this story —- they are, in fact, persons, human beings meriting the protection of law.

From the time they were tiny, my boys have been incredibly social with one another and with others. “Never met a stranger” could have been coined about my sons. Since infancy, they also have always been highly engaged, physically and verbally, with one another.

My sons continue to socialize at the age of 12. Sometimes this involves extensive wrestling, wearing one another’s clothes, invading one another’s space, and merciless teasing. Which means their mother and I have to intervene and prevent such “socializing” at times. In the womb, out of the womb: Twins are twins.

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