Thursday, August 24, 2006

Christian Coalition losing chapters

Giles said he and his Alabama colleagues have "a dozen hard reasons" for the action but would elaborate on only one -- a perception that the coalition's leadership was diverting itself from traditional concerns such as abortion and same-sex marriage to address other issues ranging from the environment to Internet access.

The Christian Coalition diverting itself from traditional (Christian) concerns? Imagine that!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Help aid Lebanon

IOCC is one of the best positioned humanitarian aid organizations on the ground in Lebanon. Since 2001, IOCC has been implementing a USDA-funded school feeding and education program in Beirut, Mount Lebanon, the South and the North, serving a total of 242 schools and 45,000 students. When war broke out, the IOCC Beirut staff turned what was essentially a development initiative into an emergency relief program for thousands of displaced Lebanese families. (IOCC)

Please help alleviate the suffering of those caught in the crossfire.

Embryo-safe stem cells

A biotech company has come up with a way to create embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos.

The new method works by taking an embryo at a very early stage of development and removing a single cell, which can be coaxed into spawning an embryonic stem cell line. With only one cell removed, the rest of the embryo retains its full potential for development. (Associated Press)

But, as with many compromises, people at both ends of the debate are unhappy.

Some stem cell researchers complain that the new approach, though it may hold future promise, simply isn't as efficient as their current method of creating stem cells. [...] Meanwhile, hard-line opponents of stem cell science argue that the technique solves nothing, because even the single cell removed by the new approach could theoretically grow into a full-fledged human.

Maybe this is my ignorance talking, but I thought the main objection against embryonic stem cells was that their creation involved the destruction of embryos. Surely a non-destructive technique is far better than what we have currently?

One can certainly argue that these embryos shouldn't exist to begin with and that there are unethical aspects to the fertility business. But that's a different discussion.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Politics as usual

I've encountered two examples of an interesting use of the word "politics" in, well, politics.

Former Colorado state Sen. Ed Perlmutter is running in the Aug. 8 primary to compete for a open US House seat. He's running ads that promote embryonic stem cell research. He supports this research, he says, because "people are more important than politics". What? So we're now allowed to pick a political position and, if anyone opposes us, dismiss them as "politics"? I'm sorry, Mr. Politician, everything you are involved in is "politics". Search your feelings, you know it to be true! There's something wrong with a politician denigrating politics. What's next? CEOs deriding corporations?

And this morning I heard about the confirmation hearings for acting FDA commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach. There's a bit of discussion about how the FDA has been handling the Plan B abortifacient and how/if it'll be sold over the counter without a prescription. There was talk in the Senate about the FDA putting "politics above science". Again, leaving aside the fact that these are politicians talking, I don't know exactly what that's supposed to mean. No one values "politics" over anything! (Except, I thought, politicians, but maybe I'm wrong.)

We get a little closer to a real discussion with the accusation of the FDA acting according to "ideology instead of science". And even closer when Sen. Clinton said that "politicizing" the FDA would mean inserting moral judgments into the process, and that middle-aged men should be concerned because diet drugs could conceivably be outlawed because obesity is "immoral".

So I guess we know what the real problem is. One side of the debate has the moral high ground ("thou shalt not murder") so the other side must resort to name calling and scare tactics. Politics as usual!