Month Archives: July 2008

U.S. Still the Global Scientific Leader

by David Prentice

July 8, 2008

Nature Medicine has an editorial this month on global scientific leadership. (the link takes you to the abstract, the sum total of which is below; you might need a subscription to read the whole article, but try the Full Text link to see.)

Some analysts believe that the economic hegemony of the US is on its last legs, but the same does not seem to be true of its scientific supremacy.”

The bottom line: despite all the moaning and hand-wringing, the U.S. still leads the world in scientific research, and that includes comparisons to scientific heavyweights such as the U.K., China, and Japan.

This bottom line comes from a Rand study, “U.S. Competitiveness in Science and Technology” (downloadable as a free pdf.) The report and editorial note that while the U.S. leadership should not be taken for granted, the United States continues to lead the world in science and technology and has kept pace or grown faster than other nations.

There Once Was A Judge From Tacoma

by Family Research Council

July 8, 2008

Wash. judge tells verbose lawyer to make it snappy

July 7, 2008

TACOMA, Wash. —A federal judge in Tacoma has told a lawyer he needs to make it snappy.

Judge Ronald Leighton balked at a 465-page lawsuit that made its way onto his desk. He invoked a rarely used rule that requires a “short and plain statement” of allegations.

The title of the racketeering lawsuit filed by attorney Dean Browning Webb was eight pages long.

The judge issued his order in a limerick:

Plaintiff has a great deal to say,

But it seems he skipped Rule 8(a).

His Complaint is too long,

Which renders it wrong,

Please rewrite and refile today.”

Resilience of Human Life

by Family Research Council

July 8, 2008

When one thinks about the legacy of Roe v. Wade sad stories like this must come to mind. The 1973 decision helped further a cheapening of human life. While thankfully this baby has survived, one must think what if the mother had instead talked to one of the many pregnancy care centers out there who could have helped her and her child. My prayers to both the mother and the child.

Lauderdale Lakes woman put newborn in garbage bag

LAUDERDALE LAKES - She denied she had given birth even as she was caught holding a white garbage bag with a crying newborn in it, the Broward Sheriff’s Office said today.

Meshia Morant, 30, was arrested Tuesday and faces a charge of attempted murder. She is in jail on no bond.

The baby girl, now 2 weeks old, is in good health and has been placed in the care of a friend by child protection officials.

Congress: Maybe You Should Give Up Your Day Jobs

by Family Research Council

July 8, 2008

Congressional Approval Falls to Single Digits for First Time Ever

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The percentage of voters who give Congress good or excellent ratings has fallen to single digits for the first time in Rasmussen Reports tracking history. This month, just 9% say Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Most voters (52%) say Congress is doing a poor job, which ties the record high in that dubious category.

Last month, 11% of voters gave the legislature good or excellent ratings. Congress has not received higher than a 15% approval rating since the beginning of 2008.

Cord Blood: Therapies in the Bank

by David Prentice

July 8, 2008

As I noted yesterday, Cleveland NPR station WCPN is doing a 3-part series on cord blood stem cells. Today the second installment,

From a Life to the Lab: Following the Path of Cord Blood Stem Cells, follows the cord blood from collection in the delivery room to its destination at the cord blood stem cell bank and its processing.

There is a real need for more cord blood collection, and more public banks so that matches can be made for transplant. Historically, it was thought that with the small amount of cells from cord blood, only a small person (an infant) could be treated. Leading cord blood researcher Dr. Mary Laughlin discusses how they moved into treating adults: “My colleagues at Duke were testing this new stem cell source in children - the thought process at that time was that there were insufficient cells to engraft an adult.” But Laughlin ran the numbers and disagreed. Three new England journal of medicine papers, and several hundred success stories later, she had convinced her colleagues she was right.

Tomorrow in the 3rd part of the series, they will look at the treatments in which cord blood is already used for patients, and potential therapies that are coming.

Hitting the (Ear)mark

by Family Research Council

July 8, 2008

Webster’s Dictionary defines addiction as “compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal.” Clearly this definition applies to those Members of Congress who can’t seem to shake the monkey on their back of earmarks (spending taxpayer dollars on specially designated projects.) Not all earmarks are bad. However too often the way earmarks have been handled by both parties has been more about getting elected then in legislating responsibly. Consider some of the more recent “egregious earmarks” that Champion of the Taxpayer Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ-93%) has highlighted (every time he highlights an earmark it is accompanied by a groan inducing pun):

Freshman Representative Michelle Bachmann (R-MN-100%) knows being elected comes with a great responsibility and has sworn off earmarks this year. She takes some of her colleagues to task in an op-ed in yesterday’s Examiner:

Only 38 members of the House of Representatives — Democrat and Republican — have publicly sworn off earmarks for a one-year moratorium. While many more members talk the talk about the broken earmarks system, only 38 of 435 elected members of Congress care enough to actually do something about it.

As one of the members committed to not accepting earmarks this year, I know that this pledge is in the best interest of my constituents and our nation’s middle class. Responsible spending in Washington means more money in the pocketbooks of our taxpayers. It’s when our nation’s families are thriving that our economy does too.”

Frozen Better Than Fresh for Embryos?

by David Prentice

July 8, 2008

Danish scientists reported today that children born from IVF after being frozen as embryos fare better than IVF embryos not frozen. The report at the meeting in Barcelona of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology showed higher birth weight, less congenital problems, and fewer admissions to a neonatal intensive care unit, when compared to “fresh” IVF embryos.

This is hardly an endorsement for freezing your embryos first during IVF, but it is another indication that embryos that have been frozen are still quite healthy. Such embryos need not be discarded, but can be rescued and brought to term, even many years after being put into the freezer.

I’m Still Waiting For That Wire Transfer From The Nigerian Prime Minister . . .

by Family Research Council

July 8, 2008

This is kind of funny:

Ignore emails from Sen. Adolpho Palacios

Pacific Daily News July 8, 2008

11:35 a.m. - Sen. Adolpho Palacios is urging residents to ignore any suspicious emails from his account because it has been “hacked.”

Some residents received emails yesterday from claiming the senator was stuck in London and needed a load to pay for hotel bills and a flight home. The email is untrue.

Palacios said he couldn’t access the email account to stop the emails. He planned to abandon the account.

The unknown person changed my password,” he said. “So I am locked out.”

Palacios said he had not secured a new email address but would as soon as he found something “safe.”

2 and a Half Men (for every woman)

by Jared Bridges

July 8, 2008

Well, not exactly, but the ratio of males to females in some parts of China is climbing to extraordinary heights. Writing in the latest issue of The New Republic, Mara Hvistendahl observes the effects of the testosterone problem in one Chinese city:

Lianyungang, a booming port city in a Jiangsu province economic belt, is ground zero for some of these changes. According to the China Family Planning Association, it’s the city in China with the most extreme gender ratio for children under four—163 boys for every 100 girls. One sunny Saturday morning at verdant Cangwu Park, I count six boys and three girls bouncing on the inflatable castle. Near the ice-cream stand are a dozen sticky-faced kids, seven boys and five girls, feeding pigeons. The children running after kites adorned with Olympics mascots and China’s Shenzhou VII spaceship: three and two. The drivers of the cheerful little tanks circling an electric track: three and one.

These numbers work fine on the playground, but, for China’s many match- making services, they may prove troublesome. At the Good Luck Marriage Introduction Agency, in a town a few hours’ drive west from Liangyungang, two whiteboards mounted on the wall advertise the age, height, and income of available singles. On the day I visit, founder Tao Hui, a fortysomething woman with a bouffant, is watching soap operas in her sweatpants. She hasn’t felt the shortage yet, she says. On the whiteboards, a few dozen nameless men line up nicely to a few dozen nameless women. For now, many in the early wave of surplus men are marrying younger women.

We’ll see real problems in eight or ten years,” Tao predicts. Her 17-year- old son, she assures me, has good prospects. But she already turns away a lot of single males from outlying villages with no money or education. “If they’re ugly and can’t find work, there’s nothing I can do. No one wants them.”

Unfortunately, it looks like the problems created by the combination of China’s one-child policy and a cultural preference for boys won’t be limited to ugly men. Hvistendahl reports that the crime rate among youth has doubled over the past decade — and youth interest in violent activities is on the rise.

It seems that as the first fruits of state intervention into Chinese family life reach maturity, the imbalance of the sexes is making lopsided more than just matchmaking services.The Chinese government’s attempt to control its population is in danger of becoming a population out of control.

Previous posts on this topic:

Sometimes a Fetus is Just a Fetus

by Michael Fragoso

July 8, 2008

One way of seeing that Bill is right about how the South Dakota decision reflects a growing change in abortion jurisprudence, is by looking at the reaction from some parts of the left.  Emily Bazelon of Slate, is in a bit of a tizzy over it.  The bee in her bonnet is the informed consent law’s provision that doctors must tell women seeking abortions that “the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”

Apparently this is unacceptable.  Bazelon informs us,

Planned Parenthood argued that the state is legislating morality because to call a fetus a “whole, separate, unique, living human being” is an ideological statement, not a medical one.

I was unaware that there was any debate in contemporary medical science as to whether or not a fetus- defined as a developing, distinct member of the species homo sapiens-was in fact a developing, distinct member of the species homo sapiens.  (Bazelon refers to this line of thinking as “tautological.”  Perhaps it is, but just because something happens to be true via tautology doesn’t negate the fact that it’s true.)  Perhaps some long-suffering practitioners of Aristotelian medicine might argue that the fetus is a vegetable or an animal, and not yet a human?  Surely this cannot be what Bazelon would count as a “medical” opinion.

She goes on:

The Supreme Court has told the states that it’s not for them to resolve when life begins-and it should certainly follow from this that they can’t force any such resolution on doctors.

Never mind that the authoritative medical textbooks and the longstanding orthodoxies of embryology and developmental biology are crystal clear about when life begins, the Supreme Court has told us that we can’t legislate based on those facts.  It is reassuring to know that America has the likes of Anthony Kennedy and Harry Blackmun to be the arbiters of permissible scientific knowledge.

And the kicker:

As the 8th Circuit dissent by Judge Diana Murphy points out, the question “in some sense encompass[es] the whole philosophical debate about abortion.”

Judge Murphy and Ms. Bazelon don’t seem to understand the “the whole philosophical debate about abortion.”  The question at hand is not whether or not the fetus is a human being, but whether or not, as a human being, it is worthy of respect and in possession of an inviolable right to life.  As Bazelon notes, almost in passing, the Supreme Court has pronounced “no” on the matter of the fetus’ personhood and rights.  Pace Bazelon and her liberal judge friends, the Supreme-or any-Court is incapable of pronouncing “no” on the question of the fetus’ fetushood and biological status as a human being.  This is merely the factual starting point for any fair-minded and reasonable analysis of the abortion question.  If Bazelon and Murphy want to argue that these young human beings lack dignity and are not deserving of our respect due to their age, their location, their dependency, or mere caprice, they are welcome to do so.  Maybe now that in South Dakota misinforming pregnant women through omission or commission isn’t an option, they’ll have to.

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