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Networks Ignore Push for Repeal of DOMA October 7, 2009

Posted by Daniel Downs in Barak Obama, Democrats, family, gay politics, marriage, media bias, Nancy Pelosi, news, politics.
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Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York introduced a new threat to traditional marriage on September 15 – a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

News of Nadler’s plan to introduce the Respect for Marriage Act broke late last week, but ABC, CBS and NBC all failed to report this latest push for forced acceptance of same-sex marriage. Although the health care reform debate has gobbled up media attention for weeks, the networks’ silence on the fundamental issue of how the federal government defines marriage is odd.

Nadler’s bill would overturn the 1996 law signed by President Bill Clinton that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

A September 15 press release issued by Nadler’s office claimed the bill has 91 original co-sponsors. Nadler stated in the release, “With a President who is committed to repealing DOMA and a broad, diverse coalition of Americans on our side, we now have a real opportunity to remove from the books this obnoxious and ugly law.”

Not all Democrats agreed with Nadler. The Washington Blade reported on September 11 that Rep. Barney Frank, an openly gay Democrat from Massachusetts is not supporting Nadler’s effort to overturn DOMA. “It’s not anything that’s achievable in the near term,” Frank said. The New York Times reported September 15 that Speaker Nancy Pelosi “also indicated this year that repealing the law would not be a top priority.”

ABC, CBS and NBC failed to take interest in the story, even with the added twist of intra-party (and even intra-administration) division over the bill. None of the networks have discussed this issue since President Obama’s inauguration, despite his repeated calls during the 2008 campaign to repeal DOMA and despite a 54-page brief filed in support of DOMA by his Justice Department in June.

The brief, filed in the California case Smelt v. United States that challenged DOMA, outraged gay rights activists because, as reported by the Washington Post, it “appeared to equate same-sex marriage with incest and pedophilia” and the lawyers referred to marriage between a man and a woman as “the traditional and universally recognized form.”

Importance of DOMA

DOMA did not simply define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It banned the federal recognition of same-sex marriages. It also protects states from being forced to recognize same-sex marriages that took place in other states.

“DOMA is the only federal law that protects marriage as the union of husband and wife, and guarantees voters in Georgia or Wisconsin that a handful of judges in Massachusetts will not be able to impose gay marriage on their state,” noted Maggie Gallagher, president and founder of the National Organization for Marriage.

Bryan Fischer, director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association, focused his criticism of Nadler’s efforts on the issue of states’ rights.

“People in state after state have made it clear that they do not want either Congress or activist judges tampering with the time-honored institution of marriage,” he stated in a September 15 press release. “People who care about the institution of marriage and care about their own state’s Tenth Amendment right to decide this issue for themselves should be outraged at this frontal assault on the cornerstone of American society and on the democratic process itself.”

Not Ignored in Print

While the networks have ignored DOMA, the editorial boards of The Washington Post and The New York Times urged the administration to overturn the law as soon as possible.

The Justice Department brief filed in June that supported DOMA inspired the Times’ Frank Rich to write on June 28, “Obama’s inaction on gay civil rights is striking. So is his utterly uncharacteristic inarticulateness. The Justice Department brief defending DOMA has spoken louder for this president than any of his own words on the subject.”

James Kirchick, assistant editor of the New Republic and a contributing writer to the Advocate, questioned Obama’s commitment to same-sex marriage. “When it comes to same-sex marriage, the movement can’t count on support from the current president,” Kirchick wrote. “Obama’s stance on gay marriage is virtually indistinguishable from that of John McCain,” he later charged.

The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart gave Obama more cover in his June 21 editorial. “The first substantive comment on gay and lesbian equality since he took office was the Justice Department’s noxious brief in Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer v United States of America, and it fueled suspicion that the president was backpedaling on his promises.” Capehart later urged gays and lesbians to look to Congress to achieve their “big victories, such as the repeal of DOMA and the ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy.”

On August 18, the Post reported that “the Obama administration distanced itself” from the Justice Department’s June brief regarding DOMA.

A follow-up brief filed August 17 in the Smelt v. United States case did not contain the language that had inflamed gay rights activists. But as reported by the Post, “Senior trial counsel W. Scott Simpson embraced findings by researchers and prominent medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association, in saying ‘that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are as likely to be well-adjusted as children raised by heterosexual parents.”

DOMA, the administration’s defense of it and the subsequent backing away from the defense, were not discussed on ABC, CBS, or NBC..

The networks habitually refused to cover DOMA-related news, as indicated by this year’s lack of coverage and also their refusal to report Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s firm 2008 statement of support for the repeal of DOMA.

This of course, is not to say that the networks refuse to cover news related to gay rights. Networks promoted same-sex marriage through the constant airing of Prop 8 protest footage in the days following the 2008 election.

Networks’ Disservice

ABC, CBS and NBC committed a grave disservice to the American public by refusing to cover the issue of DOMA. The repeal of such a law has serious implications for society and culture.

Networks repeatedly proved their liberal bias. But at least in that, viewers knew something occurred and had the opportunity to seek out supplemental information. In the case of DOMA, viewers most likely haven’t realized the very definition of traditional marriage is at stake.

By Colleen Raezler, Culture & Media Institute

Source: Culture Links e-Newsletter, September 15, 2009


Emulating the European Model: Prescription for Failure September 24, 2009

Posted by Daniel Downs in Barak Obama, Chrisitanity, culture war, liberals, multiculturalism, politics, religion, secularism, statism.
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To say the Obama administration is enamored of the European model would be an understatement—it positively adores it. That’s why the “Change You Can Believe In” crowd is in full gear trying to mimic their economic system, the most visible example of which is its health care program. If only the European model were worth emulating. Sadly, the record is not encouraging.

Every time there is a worldwide economic downturn, the Europeans lag the Americans in recovery. Quite simply, the more market-oriented the economy, the quicker the recovery; European-style socialism trails the U.S. is rebounding precisely because government is anything but nimble. So why the attraction?

What drives the Obama administration to mimic the European model is not its record of achievements; rather, it is the belief that private institutions are not to be trusted. From its opposition to school vouchers to its embrace of a public plan for its health care program, the administration prefers the public sector to the private sector, hands down. It does so in large part because it lusts to take command, whether it be in the form of social, sexual or economic engineering.

Father Knows Best has given way to Government Knows Best. And by creating economic public policies that make men and women more and more dependent on government, the engineers control their destiny, as well as their vote. It does so, unfortunately, at the expense of self-reliance and self-government. As Dennis Prager wisely observes, “the bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.” Regrettably, government now dwarfs the individual, the result of which is a diminution in our ability to hold the state at bay.

Statist policies naturally incline toward expansion. Make no mistake about it, the encroachment of the state on civil society is real, the result of which is the creation of a precarious situation for all private institutions. That would include, certainly, religious entities. European observers of all political leanings are quick to point out how genuinely secular those societies have become. The pace of this deracination has quickened, the effect of which has been a movement away from religious indifference toward genuine hostility. Atheism hasn’t been so fashionable since the Enlightenment.

Every statist regime in history has been anti-religious. The church, of course, is rightly seen as a bulwark to the reach of the state. This explains the animus: secularists of this hyper-politicized sort cannot settle for neutrality—they are out to sunder religious traditions and institutions. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that these secular saboteurs are busy flexing their muscles in the U.S., as well as in Europe.

I wrote Secular Sabotage: How Liberals Are Destroying Religion and Culture in America as a wake-up call. The open assault on our Judeo-Christian ethos has been operative for decades, but never before have we approached a tipping point: we have now reached that stage. The stakes are high as our cultural future hangs in the balance.

From the politically correct programs that mark multiculturalism—a love fest for every civilization save our own—to the sexual libertines who see in Christian sexual ethics a roadblock to genital liberation, we are up against it. Scatological art exhibits are bad enough, but when paired with expressions of Christian bashing, they cross the line many times over. It’s been a long time, of course, since Hollywood found itself capable of portraying Christianity in a positive light, and the fury unleashed against Mel Gibson for making “The Passion of the Christ” underscores the politics involved.

Secular saboteurs show a particular fondness for using the law as a club to stamp out Christianity, torturing out of all recognition the original intent of the Framers; the First Amendment provisions regarding religious liberty have been hit the hardest. Secular elements within the Democratic Party have become bolder and bolder in their disdain for people of faith, driving Catholics out of the party in droves. Perhaps most distressing, the radical secular agenda has penetrated Catholicism, as well as the mainline Protestant denominations, disfiguring them in ways not previously thought imaginable.

In short, Christian bashing is in vogue. That this is happening in a nation which is approximately 80 percent Christian shows the power of a loosely organized, but totally determined, secular minority, and a collapse of will on the part of a sizeable segment of the Christian population. Only a coalition of religious conservatives, across faith lines, can reverse course. Fortunately, as evidenced by the coalition that rallied around Proposition 8 in California, there is reason for optimism.

By Bill Donahue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

Health care petition signed by 1.3M delivered to Congress September 15, 2009

Posted by Daniel Downs in Barak Obama, Congress, health care, legislation, socialism.
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Southern Baptist ethics leader Richard Land joined other radio talk show hosts Sept. 9 in presenting to members of Congress a petition signed by more than 1.3 million Americans opposed to current health care legislation.

Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and host of “Richard Land Live!” and the others delivered the copies of the petition to Rep. John Boehner, R.-Ohio, the minority leader in the House of Representatives, and other members of Congress at a Capitol Hill news conference. All the talk show hosts are with Salem Radio Network.

The petition, which is believed by organizers to be the “largest public policy petition ever delivered to the Congress,” expresses concern about legislation that would move the United States toward government-run health insurance. It calls for freedom to choose health care providers, “patient-centered” care, government aid for the truly needy and insurance that will transfer with a person when he changes jobs.

The number of petition signers “shows that there is tremendous grassroots opposition and concern to a government takeover of a major portion of American health care,” Land told Baptist Press after the news conference.

Sen. Jim DeMint, R.-S.C., said at the news conference his office considers one phone call representative of at least 100 people, meaning the signed petitions represent at least 130 million Americans, he said. The boxes of signed petitions were delivered to the outdoor news conference on gurneys taken from an ambulance.

The delivery of the petitions came about six hours before President Obama was scheduled to deliver a nationally televised address to a joint session of Congress urging support for health care reform. The congressional health reform effort, backed by the White House, faced increasing opposition across the country over the summer.

After the news conference, Land said of his desire for Obama’s speech: “I would hope the president would say, ‘You know, I campaigned as a post-partisan president, and so, in that spirit, I am going to scrap what is obviously a plan which does not have the broad support of the American people, and I am going to back to the drawing board with the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Congress, and we’re going to come up with a plan that will get the consensus support of the American people.”

In a nine-page analysis released in early August, the ERLC said it is certain a House bill approved in three committees “will lead to diminished health care for most Americans, less choice, higher taxes and unprecedented government intrusion into every level and aspect of society, from business, to education, to marriage, to individual liberty.”

The House version is the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, H.R. 3200.

The ERLC believes health care reform is needed, Land has said, but it is opposed to the measures approved by House and Senate committees. Those proposals would drive other insurers out of business, cause many people to lose their current insurance and control what private plans do, according to the ERLC.

A key concern also is that the House bill explicitly permits funding for elective abortions, which has sparked strong opposition from Land, the ERLC and other pro-life groups. Obama has denied the House bill would underwrite abortions, but pro-lifers have said the president has misrepresented the congressional proposals. Committees in both the House and Senate rejected efforts to exclude abortion funding from health care legislation.

Land has said Obama could easily resolve the matter.

“If, as the president alleges, abortion is not to be considered a covered procedure in any government option, what’s the problem with specifically saying so by excluding it in the legislative language? I would encourage President Obama to pick up the phone and call his party’s leaders in the House and tell them to drop their opposition to specifically excluding abortion as a covered procedure in any proposed legislation,” Land said.

The petition presented by the talk show hosts states: “I, the undersigned citizen of the United States, petition the U.S. Congress to stop any increased role of the government in my health care decisions. I also petition the U.S. Congress to protect my right to choose my own doctors and hospitals without delay or denial, to obtain care that is patient-centered, and to have health insurance that is personal, portable and best suits my needs.”

In addition to Boehner and DeMint, other congressional members, all Republicans, speaking at the news conference were Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Reps. Eric Cantor of Virginia, Mike Pence of Indiana, Tom Price of Georgia, Pete Sessions of Texas and John Shadegg of Arizona.

Source: Baptist Press, September 9, 2009

Paying for Health Care Reform September 10, 2009

Posted by Daniel Downs in Barak Obama, capitalism, Democrats, economy, health care, Income, Medicare/Medicaid, news, politics, taxes, welfare.
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During one Town Hall meetings, President Obama said people like himself could pay for health care reform. That is, high-income taxpayers can afford high tax rates to help fund universal health care.

Thomas Jefferson held a similar view. He was critical of industrious citizens getting rich while others citizens were going without. He believed the wealthy should assist the less fortunate to achieve a livable income.

The difference between the views of Obama and Jefferson is not apparent. Nevertheless, there is a significant difference in their views. Obama adheres to a form of contemporary liberalism that has embraced the values of humanism, egalitarianism, and welfare socialism. Although Jefferson was more liberal than many of his day, he was nevertheless a rock solid natural law proponent. His values were characterized by traditional moral values, entrepreneurial capitalism, and natural rights equality. Stated more simply, Obama tends towards being a big government socialist while Jefferson was oriented toward being a limited government capitalist.

To Jefferson, the term capitalist meant entrepreneurs of small businesses including farms, repair shops, small manufacturers or craftsmen, merchants, and the like. Today, the term capitalism certainly includes owners of small businesses, but, in practice, most modern politicians favor a big business view. Internationalists, like Obama and most federal politicians, give their allegiance to supporting national, international, and especially Wall Street business. However, Jefferson, as did Adam Smith, opposed big business as a threat to independent “capitalists”. One reason was that they regarded big business as quasi-governmental entities, and so do many financial experts today.

The point is this: Obama, as representative of the Democratic Party, wants the more wealthy to pay for their welfare based benefits program for middle and lower income citizens. The obvious problem is high income citizens live off the productivity of lower income employees, taxpayers, and consumers. This is what early Americans like Thomas Jefferson were critical of. Why? As expressed by John Locke, property and productivity belonged to the property owner and worker. In other words, the means of production belonged to all Americans equal to their need and capacity.

Taxing for the limited functions of government was and is the necessary cost to security property and life as well as to maintain the freedom to pursue as much happiness as possible. Taxing for redistribution from the haves to the have-nots was regarded as robbery just as the low wage living was regarded as slavery.

One could argue that most businesses already pay their employees health care. They also pay into Medicare as well as into group health care. Employees pay a small portion of the health insurance costs. Why pay them higher wages?

The only reason to pay employees higher wages would be for them to pay 100 percent of the cost. This is true of all other government-initiated social safety net programs including social security, welfare, and ESEA (now called No Child Left Behind), and S-CHIP. Without poor wage earners, all of those programs would not be needed and would be more difficult to justify.

Those social safety net programs were all good ideas, but all became means to enlarging federal powers over American lives. Except for Social Security, most of those programs never produced the results that were sold to American citizens. Corporations whose revenues are in the multi-millions and billions often get welfare subsidies. Are not the bank and manufacturer bailouts a form of welfare? After billions of taxpayer funding, the ESEA program still has not closed the educational gap between children of poor families and others; it still has resolved the huge school drop out problem; add it still has not made American children’s globally competitive in math and science. One would think that over 40 years or 3 generations Americans would have achieved this goal. Then there is S-CHIP (State Children Health Insurance Program) that never has been used strictly to help the children of poor families. Why? Because the agenda of liberal bureaucrats always has been to complete the goal of making the middle class welfare dependents or good socialists.

Democrats justify their health care reform based on the millions of Americans without adequate health care. The majority of the uninsured are the working poor. Why are the working poor without health coverage? They are without health coverage for one of four reasons: (1) Their employers cannot afford to pay for heath care. (2) They cannot afford to pay their portion of their employers’ group plan. (3) Their spouse has sufficient family coverage. (4) They simply do not want to give any more money to insurance companies. Yet, every working American does pay into Medicare/Medicaid.

After paying for retirement age health care, the state often takes all of the possessions of those who paid into Medicare for years just for cashing in on the supposed safety net. That seems more like a big brother scam and not a safety net.

Maybe, Bernie Madoff’s real crime was learning and practicing the art of his liberal big brother.

The answer to the health care problem is not the enlargement of government or government run health care. It is reforming the political economy. If as President Obama, Jim Wallis, and others claim, the rich can afford to pay more taxes for health care reform, they could afford to pay better wage rates so that all American could purchase health care they and their families want. The cure for making health care affordable (reducing costs and increasing earned income) would solve many other societal problems tied to America’s political economy.

Faith Healing Government Miracles September 4, 2009

Posted by Daniel Downs in Barak Obama, Constitution, corporations, culture war, Declaration of Independence, faith, God, health care, Jesus Christ, liberals, living wage, morality, news, politics, poverty, truth, wages, welfare.
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Sojourner’s Jim Wallis is America’s leading preacher of faith healing. Unlike his charismatic brethren, Wallis is preaching faith in government. In praise of the benevolent overlords of health care, Wallis calls on us to believe in the liberal’s health care plan for miraculous healing. Like the healing ministry of Jesus, Wallis proclaims the federal government will save the poor from a woeful lack health care and poverty as well.

Actually, his latest sermon didn’t include deliverance from poverty by government or anyone else. The likely reason is that neither government bureaucrats nor big business has any plans of raising the poor out of the dependency on their big government savior. I doubt that Obama does either.

I know my comments seem to border on the edge of intolerant blasphemy, but consider Wallis’ words:

We are calling on people of faith to carry on the healing ministry of Jesus by making sure your political representatives understand that the faith community will be satisfied with nothing less than accessible, affordable health care for all Americans, built on a solid financial foundation. (emphasis added)

People of faith need to be the steady, moral drumbeat driving the debate and keeping our politicians accountable. This is a critical and long-overdue opportunity to fix a broken and inequitable system, which must not be derailed either by powerful special interests or by those, on any side, who just want to score political points. It is up to all of us to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Like Wallis, the United Methodist Church believes it is the government’s responsibility to provide all citizens with adequate health care. I have to ask; where in the Bible does it say that? Where in the U.S. Constitution does it give liberal politicians in Washington the legal authority? Maybe they read the general welfare clause as being non-restrictive in such matters.

If so, why don’t they interpret it in a way that gives themselves the power to ensure that every working American earns a wage they can live on? It would be equitable for every working American to earn enough for a minimally independent life without welfare assistance. Isn’t it more important for individuals to earn enough to pay banks for a mortgage, pay GM for a new car every 3-5 years, to maintain clothing and housewares, to purchase government mandated new television and communication technologies, to buy healthy food, as well as adequate health care insurance?

The answer given by federal and state politicians as well as Wall Street funded corporations is NO unless you are fully dependent on Almighty Gov or on one of its Union bosses, AFL-CIO or NEA for example. One exception is if you have been blessed by fate with the right global market skills developed at the right university with a more marketable degree such science, computer technology, medicine, law, or business investment and marketing. Having been born or raised in the right family or have gained the right social connections helps too.

Wallis’ liberal propaganda jazzed up with religious hype makes right-wing theocrats look like Saint Theresa. At least she actually helped the poor, diseased, and the orphan. If as I suspect, Wallis is sincere in his effort to help the poor and needy; it appears he has wondered to far from the fold and has enter the den of wolves.

Jesus said, “The wolf comes to kill, to steal, and to destroy.” The gospel of government salvation has the serpent imprint. The glorious health care reform being evangelized to America will not only help those kept in poverty with paying for government’s health care insurance but it will insure the killing of the unborn and the useless elderly. The miracle healing promised by faith in government will also continue robbing many of an equitable income as well the freedom from the tyranny of dependency on government or quasi-governments such as Wall Street funded corporations. Many financial experts, economists, and even brave health professionals are claiming that the current government is destroying our economy, our better than all other national health care systems, and our future.

Jesus also said, “The truth will set you free.” The truth is Obama, liberals, and wayward Christians are not telling the truth. Read the dag-gone health bills and committee amendments. Then consider this: medical science can only assist the human body to heal itself. That is how God designed it. Only the Creator can actually heal the human body. He alone can reprogram the DNA or other aspects of mutated organisms that destroy normal human cells. Maybe one day, medical science will actually discover all of the Designer’s secrets, but until then, only faith in God for healing is warranted.

Sources: Sojourner, August 20, 2009; United Methodist Church News, August 19, 2009; John 10: 10; and John 8:32.

Federal suit challenges stem cell funding guidelines September 3, 2009

Posted by Daniel Downs in Barak Obama, federal government, medical science, news, politics, stem cell research.
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The Obama administration’s guidelines for federal funding of stem cell research that results in the destruction of human embryos have been challenged in court, and a lawyer behind the suit says he thinks its “chances are very good.”

The National Institutes of Health’s decision to fund embryonic stem cell research is “unethical, scientifically unnecessary, fiscally irresponsible and counterproductive,” opponents said in their complaint filed Aug. 19 in District of Columbia federal court.

Their suit contends the guidelines violate a 13-year-old congressional ban on funds for research that destroys embryos. It also says the National Institutes of Health (NIH) failed to follow procedures required by law before issuing the guidelines, including in its dismissal of substantial studies that show other stem cells are “ethically and medically superior alternatives.”

According to NIH’s interpretation of the congressional ban, federal funds can be used for embryonic stem cell research as long as the embryos themselves are destroyed using private sector money.

Federal judge Royce Lamberth, who was nominated by President Reagan, has been assigned to the case. The parties filing the lawsuit are hopeful a hearing will be conducted in mid-October to consider their request for a preliminary injunction that would block embryonic stem cell research funding.

The Obama administration has not requested a dismissal of the case, but it “is going to fight us tooth and nail,” said Samuel Casey, a lawyer for the plaintiffs and general counsel of Advocates International’s Law of Life Task Force who expressed optimism about the suit’s chances.

“The humanity of the human embryo is the civil rights movement of the 21st century,” Casey told Baptist Press Aug. 28.

“If we tell the world that the human embryo is not a member of our species, you cannot overestimate the hurt that is going to put on humanity…. If we let the wall down here, we’ll never be able to erect it again,” he said.

Among the plaintiffs in the case are the Christian Medical Association; Nightlight Christian Adoptions (the California-based agency that is known for its “snowflakes” embryo adoption program); two researchers who work with adult stem cells and not embryonic ones; and two sets of parents who have adopted and seek to adopt more embryos.

NIH issued guidelines July 7 in response to President Obama’s March executive order overturning a ban on grants for embryonic stem cell research and his directive for the agency to provide rules for embryonic stem cell research funding within 120 days.

Obama’s order rescinded a policy instituted by President Bush in August 2001. Bush’s rule barred the use of federal funds for stem cell research that results in the destruction of human embryos. Bush permitted, however, grants for experiments on stem cell lines, or colonies, already in existence.

Because of their ability to develop into other cells and tissues, stem cells provide hope for producing cures for a variety of diseases. Though embryonic stem cells have been promoted for their pluripotency, meaning they theoretically can transform into any cell or tissue, extracting them destroys the embryo.

NIH’s new guidelines limit federal funds to research involving embryos produced by in vitro fertilization for reproductive purposes and donated by couples who no longer want them. The couples must provide voluntary, written permission.

The plaintiffs in the suit contend the guidelines violate the 1996 Dickey-Wicker Amendment, a rider to the spending bill for the Department of Health and Human Services. The amendment prohibits federal funds for “(1) the creation of a human embryo or embryos for research purposes; or (2) research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death greater than that allowed for research on fetuses in utero….”

The amendment, the suit argues, “evinces a clear congressional intent to prohibit federal funding for research that is dependent on harming or destroying human embryos. Because the process by which human embryonic stem cells are extracted from human embryos necessarily destroys the embryos, the Federal Funding Ban expressly prohibits federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research.”

In a written statement when the suit was filed, Thomas Hunger, another lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the “language of the statue is clear. It bans public funding for any research that leads to the destruction of human embryos. NIH’s attempt to avoid Congress’ command by funding everything but the act of ‘harvesting’ is pure sophistry.”

Congress has approved Dickey-Wicker — named after its sponsors, former Republican Reps. Jay Dickey of Arkansas and Roger Wicker of Mississippi — every year since 1996. Most recently, Obama in March signed legislation that includes the amendment into law.

The suit also says NIH failed to take into account the scientific and ethical superiority of research using adult stem cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. The success of experimentation with such cells, as well as their harmlessness to donors, makes the funding of destructive embryonic research unnecessary, they contend.

Trials using adult stem cells have produced therapies for at least 73 ailments in human beings, despite the fact such cells are not considered pluripotent, according to Do No Harm, a coalition promoting ethics in research. Among the afflictions treated by adult stem cells are cancer, juvenile diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart damage, Parkinson’s, sickle cell anemia and spinal cord injuries, according to Do No Harm.

Scientists have discovered iPS cells in the last two years, producing great promise for cures without the ethical problems of embryonic stem cell research. In iPS research, scientists convert adult cells into cells that have nearly the identical properties of embryonic ones.

Embryonic stem cell research has yet to produce therapies in human beings and has been plagued by the development of tumors in lab animals.

The suit also contends NIH transgressed the Administrative Procedure Act by failing “to respond to or even consider comments asking NIH to reconsider its decision to fund” embryonic stem cell research.

NIH received about 49,000 public comments before issuing the guidelines, and about 30,000 opposed federal money for embryonic stem cell research. NIH disregarded comments calling for no ESCR funding, considering them “unresponsive,” according to The Hill newspaper.

“We actually did not ask the public whether we should fund research on human embryonic stem cells. We asked the public how we should fund human embryonic stem cell research,” said Raynard Kington, NIH’s acting director at the time, The Hill reported.

Casey and others filed a similar suit in 2000, when NIH under President Clinton drew up guidelines that would have permitted embryonic stem cell research funding as long as the stem cells were derived — and the embryo destroyed — using private money. The Bush administration blocked the Clinton guidelines the next year, however, leading to Bush’s new policy.

The discovery of iPS cells and the effectiveness demonstrated by adult stem cells has been helpful to the plaintiffs in the new suit.

“The passage of time has made our case better,” Casey said.

If they win in court, the legislative overthrow of Dickey-Wicker will be the “fallback position” of the proponents of embryonic stem cell research funding, Casey told BP.

“And they don’t have the votes to overturn Dickey-Wicker, I don’t think,” Casey said. “If [Speaker of the House Nancy] Pelosi could have done it,” she would have done so, he said.

In addition to being a plaintiff in the case, Nightlight Christian Adoptions also is seeking to be considered in court as guardian ad litem for the embryos who have been created or will be created using IVF but will not be implanted in their mothers’ wombs.

Source: Baptist Press, August 28, 2009

Few Israelis trust Obama, Arab initiative September 1, 2009

Posted by Daniel Downs in Barak Obama, foreign relations, Israel, Middle East, news, Palestinian state.
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Only 12% of Israelis believe US President Barack Obama’s policies are supportive of Israel, according to a poll released Thursday, while only 40% support the Arab peace initiative originally proposed by Saudi Arabia. Conducted between August 9-15, the poll saw Israelis surveyed by the Truman Research Institute at Hebrew University, while the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research polled Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza. Some 59% of Israelis believe that in the light of the resolutions adopted at the recent Fatah conference, Israel does not have a partner for peace negotiations. In addition, 58% of Israelis oppose the American demand to fully cease all construction in the settlements including that intended to solve needs of natural growth. A full 62% of Israelis oppose any arrangement in which the Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem, including the Old City and the Temple Mount, would come under Palestinian sovereignty. The PCR-Truman Institute poll a lso found that 76% of Palestinians oppose a demilitarized Palestinian state, while 64% of Palestinians support the Arab peace plan.

Source: ICEJ, August 21, 2009