Thursday, September 29, 2005

Shocker! Dutch to Expand Euthanasia Guidelines--Again

In a move that is utterly unsurprising, the Dutch are going to expand their euthanasia guidelines to permit the killing of infants. What a sick joke. Dutch doctors have been killing babies born with disabilities or terminal illnesses for more than a decade with nothing meaningful done about it--even though infanticide is murder under Dutch law. But we will keep hearing the ideologues of euthanasia continue to insist there is no slippery slope. In that, at least, they are right: It isn't a slope: It is a bottomless abyss.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Reality Check: Embryonic Stem Cells Not Ready For Prime Time

I have expanded on some themes I have been commenting on here recently in the Daily Standard. The article discusses the recent treatment success for paralysis using umbilical cord blood stem cells, the curing of mice with juvenile diabetes with adult spleen cells, and how for all of the wailing and crying for government spending on embryonic stem cell research, few researchers are asking for the bread even when it is available. Now, if only the media would catch on to where the real action is.

When the Facts Are Inconvenient, Change the Language

Ah, those assisted suicide ideologues: They are always looking for just the right words and language to obfuscate that their agenda is about suicide and mercy killing. Now, facing defeat of their assisted suicide legalization bill, "Californians for Compassionate Choices," (see what I mean about their use of language?) is urging media not to use accurate and descriptive words to describe assisted suicide, because doing so is "biased." "Assisted suicide and physician-assisted suicide are pejorative terms that paint terminally ill patients in the same negative light as terrorist suicide bombers," the press release asserts in laughable hyperbole.

Rather then use accurate terms, media are urged to use gooey euphemisms instead, which are deemed "neutral." Thus, media are urged to call assisted suicide "death with dignity," or "right to die," or "end of life choices," as supposedly "more accurate." But they aren't. They hide rather than describe.

If a movement cannot win a public policy debate because accurate descriptions and language hurt their cause, then there is definitely something wrong with the agenda. Or to put it another way: It isn't the words, it is the killing.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Depression a Major Factor in Requests for Euthanasia

Bioedge, which is a great weekly on-line newsletter that summarizes major news stories, professional journal articles, and other reports in bioethics and biotechnology (see link), has reported on a study that finds depression to be a key factor in requests for euthanasia in the Netherlands. The report, which I am striving to obtain, was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. According to Bioedge, "Dutch doctors have found that few patients who ask for euthanasia are making a rational request for a good death," but rather, "researchers say that contrary to their own clinical experience and their initial hypothesis, depressed patients were four times more likely to request euthanasia and half of all requests were made by depressed patients."

This makes sense. And hence, the proper and truly compassionate answer to such requests is suicide prevention and treatment for depression, not death facilitation. Unfortunately, such reports will not dim the zeal for "assisted dying" among the death with dignity crowd.

Grave Robbers Arrested

The alleged perpetrators of the grave robbing to drive that guinea pig farm out of business in the UK have been arrested. Good. The time is more than past for international law enforcement to crush animal liberation terrorism once and for all. Note these other "protest" tactics implemented by the liberationists against the farmers and their neighbors for six long years: "The Hall family, and those associated with them, have been subjected to death threats, hate mail, malicious phone calls, hoax bombs and arson attacks." I wait for the first press release from a mainstream animal rights organization hailing the police for this arrest.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Ian Wilmut is Growing Ever More Radical

Ian Wilmut, the creator of Dolly, used to only want to clone animals for use in genetic engineering. He would never clone humans, he wrote in his book about Dolly. Then, when his animal cloning enterprise went financially belly-up, he moved into human therapeutic cloning experiments, receiving a license to clone from the UK government. Then, he wrote that reproductive human cloning should be allowed if it is safe, at least in some circumstances. Now, he says the UK is too conservative in its cloning public policy, even though it has one of the most permissive cloning laws in the world.

Here are the key quotes reported from a recent speech, as I see them: "We seem to have lost our excitement and confidence in science." No. Science isn't an end, it is a means. Being concerned about the ethics of an area of scientific inquiry is not to lose our excitement about overall scientific potential. Nor is insisting upon proper ethical and moral limits, anti-science. Indeed, many are concerned about the prospect for human cloning precisely because we understand that science usually accomplishes what it sets out to do.

"While it is right to ask real biological questions about the safety and efficacy of such procedures, this is exactly what the licenses for embryonic research are for." No, there is more than efficacy and safety at stake. There are crucial moral and ethical issues that must be resolved.

Then, he warns that lives may be lost because of cloning restrictions. Well, this is just irresponsible alarmism and harem, scarem. One could just as easily assert that every dime taken from adult stem cell research and put into human cloning could cost lives. It is an irresponsible advocacy tactic.

Wilmut clearly sees no moral problem with creating human cloned embryos for use and destruction in research. But many others do. Thank goodness, we don't live in a scientocracy. When it comes to morality and ethics, we all have an equal right to have our say.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

New Jersey Receives Stem Cell Grant Requests--And All But One Are For ADULT Cell Research

Now this is telling: After all of the hype about how embryonic stem cell research holds much greater hope for cures than adult stem cell research, after all of the complaining that the field is being held back by funding limitations, here comes New Jersey accepting stem cell research grant applications. And get this: Out of 96, only ONE is for embryonic stem cell research. And it is for training, not bench science (just like what has happened with Proposition 71). Talk about a reality check!

Peter Singer Spouts Off Again

There is nothing new in this Peter Singer opinion piece that he hasn't written before, and more extensively. Being human isn't what matters, it is being a person. In 35 years, we will have euthanasia, therapeutic cloning, etc. Only religious fundamentalists can object; yadda, yadda, yadda. I only link the article because it was published in the elite Foreign Policy magazine, which is a product of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (in this case, perhaps, the peace of the grave). It is always good to be reminded about the dark future for which many in the intelligentsia yearn.

The Paradox of the Philosophy of Human Unexceptionalism

There is an interesting and adoring article about Charles Darwin in today's San Francisco Chronicle Insight section. The author, John Darnton, a New York Times journalist, celebrates Darwin's intellect and his supposed turn from theist to atheist. (I have heard otherwise, but have no idea about the nature of his personal beliefs.)

I am not involved in scientific critiques of Darwinian theory. But I do believe in human exceptionalism, whether as a result of evolution, creation, accident, planning, or alien cloning experiments (as ludicrously proposed by the science cult the Raelians).

I bring this up because the article has a key paragraph that demonstrates the paradox of materialistic thinking vis the moral worth of human life. "For ultimately, if animals and plants are the result of impersonal, immutable forces, she [Darwin's biographer Janet Browne] observes, then 'the natural world has no moral validity or purpose.' We are all of us, dogs and barnacles, pigeons and crabgrass, the same in the eyes of nature, equally remarkable and equally dispensable." (My emphasis.)

That last word of the quote is key. Human exceptionalism is the intellectual foundation of human rights. It is our unique and elevated moral status in the known universe that gives rise to both special (human) rights and unique responsibilities. If we ever come to believe we are no more morally meaningful in the world than a barnacle, then why should we act ethically human any more? Why not give in to impulses? Why not drive other species into extinction if that gives us what we want? Why worry about the care of unproductive people? Indeed, why not permit survival of the fittest in human affairs and return to social Darwinism?

And here is a great paradox in all of this: On one hand the materialists keep pounding on the drum of human unexceptionalism. Humans are nothing special, they assert. No big deal. Get over it and embrace the rationality of meaninglessness. Then, quick as a dime, some of these same folk tell us we are obligated to save the planet and sacrifice our own materialistic welfare for others, and to protect endangered species, etc.

But this is utterly illogical. They can't have it both ways. Either we are special, meaning we have unique moral duties--and special rights--or we are not. Ignoring this point, as history demonstrates, is very dangerous. How we perceive ourselves could not be more important, for it determines ultimately how we act.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Fetal Farming: It Isn't A Paranoid Fear

As readers of this blog and my other writings know, I have been warning for more than a year that therapeutic cloning will not long remain restricted to using early cloned human embryos in the Petri dish. And, I have pointed out repeatedly that New Jersey has already explicitly legalized "fetal farming," that is cloning, implantation, and gestation through the ninth month.

This story hasn't gained much traction. Will Saletan demonstrated in Slate how biotechnologists are redefining terms and conducting experiments in animals that could lead to this result. (Here is the link.) But other than one opinion column in a New Jersey newspaper, the mainstream media refuses to even report on the radical permissiveness of the New Jersey law, usually referring to it as merely authorizing embryonic stem cell research.

Now, Robert George, a member of the President's Council on Bioethics, has issued a similar clarion warning in the current edition of the Weekly Standard. "Based on the literature I have read and the evasive answers given by spokesmen for the biotechnology industry at meetings of the President's Council on Bioethics," he writes, "I fear that the long-term goal is indeed to create an industry in harvesting late embryonic and fetal body parts for use in regenerative medicine and organ transplantation."

I have experienced the same evasiveness. When confronted in debates, for example, my pro cloning opponents either remain silent or change the subject.

Please read George's piece. Forewarned is forearmed.

Friday, September 23, 2005

PETA Tells Kids That Daddy Might Kill the Dog if he Fishes

PETA is after your children. In the latest outrage, PETA has told children whose fathers fish, that their dads might kill the family pet: "Until your daddy learns that it's not "fun' to kill, keep your doggies and kitties away from him. He's so hooked on killing defenseless animals that they could be next!''

This is more than outrageous. But typical. PETA doesn't care if it undercuts family relationships in the cause of creating human/animal moral equality and making it so that people can't eat meat (or fish) for dinner.

Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells Treat Spinal Cord Injury!

I have known about this for some time, but because I didn't want to be guilty of the same hyping that is so often engaged in by some therapeutic cloning proponents, I waited until it was published in a peer reviewed journal. Now it has been and the news is HUGE: Korean scientists have used umbilical cord blood stem cells to restore feeling and mobility to a spinal cord injury patient. I have no link, but I do have the report published in Cytotherapy, (2005) Vol 7. No. 4, 368-373.

The patient is a woman who has been paraplegic from an accident for more than 19 years. (Complete paraplegia of the 10th thoracic vertebra.) She had surgery and also an infusion of umbilical cord blood stem cells. Note the stunning benefits: "The patient could move her hips and feel her hip skin on day 15 after transplantation. On day 25 after transplantation her feet responded to stimulation. On post operative day (POD) 7, motor activity was noticed and improved gradually in her lumbar paravertebral and hip muscles. She could maintain an upright position by herself on POD 13. From POD 15 she began to elevate both lower legs about 1 cm, and hip flexor muscle activity gradually improved until POD 41." It goes on from there in very technical language.

The bottom line is this, from the Abtract: Not only did the patient regain feeling, but "41 days after [stem cell] transplantation" testing "also showed regeneration of the spinal cord at the injured cite" and below it. "Therefore, it is suggested that UCB multipotent stem cell transplantation could be a good treatment method for SPI patients." (My emphasis.)

We have to be cautious. One patient does not a treatment make. Also, the authors note that the lamenectomy the patient received might have offered some benefit. But still, this is a wonderful story that offers tremendous hope for paralyzed patients. Typically, it has been extensively ignored in the American media (although it has gotten some foreign press attention). (Can you imagine the headlines if the cells used had been embryonic?)

One last point. This is a patient with a very old injury--making the results even more dramatic.

Onward!

Engineering Animals With Human Genes

This story is written as if placing human genes in animals is something new. It reports on how UK scientists have engineered mice to contain human genes that are implicated in Down's syndrome. The point is to help the researchers "identify which gene or genes cause each of the symptoms common to people with Down's syndrome," such as heart difficulties and intestinal blockages.

In actuality, such "transgenic" animals have been around for years now. Indeed, before Ian Wilmut cloned Dolly precisely so he could learn how genetically engineer ewes to have human genes so that they would produce proteins that could be extracted from their milk for use in creating pharmaceuticals--a process called "pharming." At the time Wilmut eschewed engaging in human cloning. But when his pharming enterprise went belly up, following the money, he reversed course and is now engaged in human therapeutic cloning. He has even endorsed reproductive cloning if it becomes safe, at least in some circumstances.

But I digress: The issue, it seems to me, isn't whether we should create transgenic animals for the study of human disease. As my friend William Hurlbut has put it, these genes are not the locus of human dignity.

But such experiments do raise important questions that urgently need to be--but are not being--addressed: How much human in an animal is too much human in an animal? How do we regulate, if at all, the creation of human/animal chimeras? Should we outlaw placing animal genes into human embryos?

Irving Weissman of Stanford is planning to make a mouse fetus with a human brain. The time for government to engage these issues is long past due, since scientists have shown little inclination to engage in self-restraint.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Belgian Pharmacies to Sell Euthanasia Kits

A Belgian chain of pharmacies has put together a killing kit for sale to doctors. For $74, physicians can buy kits filled with doses of lethal drugs. Says a lot about how casual killing can become once the law deems it a good thing in some cases. Also, note how cheap killing can be. Caring for patients so they don't want euthanasia could cost tens of thousands more--something to keep in mind before we legalize medicalized killing in an era of strained health care budgets.

Belgium has already fallen down the same slippery slope as the Netherlands. Only instead of taking more than two decades to reach the vertical moral cliff, it has taken a few short years. Anyone flirting with supporting assisted suicide, take note.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Unconscious May be Able to Hear

I have always believed that Terri Schiavo could hear. This was based on conversations I had with people who were with her, and on the videos posted on the Internet. One in particular struck me: Terri is asked to open her eyes. There is a pause. Her eyes remain shut. Then, they flutter. Then, she opens her eyes. Then, she opens them so wide it wrinkes her forehead. This was no mere reflex.

After the autopsy, those who supported her dehydration pointed to the finding that she was probably blind. Therefore, they said, she could not have reacted to her mother's love.

But she could have if she could hear.

This study demonstrates that unconscious people appear to hear, or at least, their brains react to speech almost like a conscious person's. Whether they can interpret these sounds is not known.

As far as I am concerned, this shouldn't matter. A human life has intrinsic value simply because it is. But some don't believe that. Hence, this study should provide definite food for thought in the ongoing struggle over the intrinsic value of all human life and in establishing proper ethical approaches to caring for those with profound cognitive disabilities.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Adult Neural Stem Cells Help Mice to Walk

And yet another adult stem cell success: This time, human neural stem cells have apparently helped heal spinal injuries in mice. Imagine: Our own cells becoming potent medicine--and all without having to conduct human cloning. More research remains to be done, of course. But scientists who continue to insist that embryonic stem cells offer the "best hope" for treatments are increasingly looking out of touch.

Appeasing Animal Liberation Extremists Will Only Make Them Hungrier

This column about the abject appeasement by the New York Stock Exchange in the face of animal liberationist threats is important. Apparently Huntingdon Life Sciences, which has been subjected to years of terrorist-type intimidation (along with companies with which it does business), to drive it out of business, was going to be listed on the NYSE. That led to the usual threats against the Exchange, and its apparent all-too-common capitulation and appeasement. But if the heads of the NYSE thinks this will buy them peace, just wait until another listed company is subjected to the same kind of assault. Will the appeasers agree to de-list the company?

History tells us clearly that predators are never satisfied by giving in. They only get hungrier--and bolder.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Oregon's Left Hand Doesn't Know What Its Right Hand is Doing

Oregon is worried about elder suicide. Yet, it promotes assisted suicide as a legal and legitimate act in cases of terminal illness. This is working at cross purposes. Legalized assisted suicide sends a strong message to all despondent people that suicide is a legitimate answer to human suffering. To state that some suicidal people can have their suicides facilited, while others will receive preventative treatment, is logically inconsistent. If Oregon leaders wish to prevent elder (and youth) suicide, it should unequivocally oppose all suicides. Otherwise, all of their talk is just so much hot air.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Only PETA Would Consider Roach Offspring to be "Children"

PETA is ever about the task of blurring the vital distinctions between humans and animals. One propaganda method routinely employed is to misuse terms or words that apply specifically to humans by associating them with animals. Now, they are even doing it with insects. PETA'a WEB site has a feature of "remarkable animal facts." One concerns a roach: "Wood roaches are monogamous, raise one group of children, and live in one log for their entire life."

The word children is the plural of child. A child is defined as a young human being. An insect's brood are not children. But to PETA, paraphrasing Ingrid Newkirk's infamous assertion, apparently, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy is a roach.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Have Ukrainian Babies Been Stolen to Supply Body Parts?

This is a very disturbing story from the London Times. It seems that some Ukrainian women have charged that their babies were stolen at birth either to be sold for adoption, or worse, used as crops for body parts. I usually don't post stories such as these, since they often represent urban legends. But the London Times is not a sensationalist publication. And this paragraph from the Times story gives me great pause.

"Video footage seen by The Times shows four foetuses which have clearly had their insides and brains surgically removed, and fragments of a larger baby, about one month old, also with many organs removed."

If true, this is beyond criminal. And it raises an important question: Should human life ever be reduced to the status of a natural resource to be exploited? That is what therapeutic cloning does, currently at the early embryo stage. But what prevents the same arguments heard today for using embryos made for research to be adopted also for later-stage embryos and even fetuses? And as I remind readers at every chance because it is so important, New Jersey has legalized cloning, implantation of cloned embryos, and gestation through the ninth month--surely not a case of poor drafting or unintended effect.

It strikes me that this fundamental principle must hold at all stages of human life, from beginning to end: Humans are not objects. They are not harvestable. Human exceptionalism demands no less.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Proposition 71 Becoming a Farcical Three Ring Circus

This article has pegged the ridiculous joke that Proposition 71 has quickly become. Conflicts of interest, no transparency, not even enough trained researchers to do the cloning that California citizens are borrowing $6-7 billion (including interest) to fund. Here is the key quote: "Proposition 71, already taking on the appearance of a three-ring circus of legislative uncertainty and confusion, nomadic litigation, and serial misrepresentation, with a sideshow of document withholding, took a big step towards becoming a chaotic farce on Friday, September 9, 2005, with the awarding of as-yet-unfunded stem cell research training grants by the Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee (ICOC) to anonymous grantees through a process involving the serial recusal of panel members with undisclosed conflicts-of-interest."

I knew it would be bad, but I didn't think it would be this bad.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Thank You For Your Service, Leon Kass

Leon Kass has resigned his position as the chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics. I will miss his leadership. Kass is one of the great thinkers in contemporary bioethics and a writer of intense talent whose prose reads like poetry. As chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics, he did a sterling job stimulating profound conversations about the most controversial biotechnology issues of the day. He even forged much consensus among the Council members in several reports, which must at times have seemed to him like herding cats. Contrary to some previous bioethics commissions I could mention, Kass refused to "stack the deck" by appointing only council members who shared one worldview. Thus, the Council, while unanimously rejecting reproductive cloning, divided bitterly about the propriety of human therapeutic cloning in its first report, Human Cloning and Human Dignity.

Because Kass is our premier apologist for the belief that human life has intrinsic dignity and value, which cuts sharply against the grain of the bioethics movement that views such thinking as irrational and discriminatory against animals (speciesism), he was subjected to intense vituperation and calumny. I responded to these attacks in the National Review Online.

Leon served his country well as chairman of the President's Council. Whether or not one agrees with his philosophy, all should applaud his willingness to enter the arena and for his selfless service. I know he will have more to contribute in the years to come. (He will apparently continue on as an associate member of the President's Council under new leadership.)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Animal Liberationists Harass Official for Euthanizing Strays but Leave Dog-Killer PETA Alone

This story in the Los Angeles Times illustrates vividly how wacky and mean the animal liberation movement has become:

"In recent weeks, one neighborhood in the Larchmont Village section of Los Angeles has been under siege: graffiti scrawlings, stink bombs, menacing midnight phone calls and, in July, a bomb scare that forced an evacuation. Police and political leaders say it's a part of an escalation by animal rights activists in Los Angeles...The protesters' target is David Diliberto, a high-ranking official in the Los Angeles Animal Services Department, whom activists blame for failing to stop the city from euthanizing thousands of stray dogs it picks up each year." (My emphasis.)

EXCUSE ME? As I have blogged and written, PETA routinely euthanizes stray dogs! If these thugs were to be consistent, they would be harassing Ingrid Newkirk. (I don't want them to do this, of course. They shouldn't harass anybody.)

But there is no chance that they will issue so much as a peep of protest over PETA killing more than 10,000 dogs in recent years. For many liberationists, the animals are the pretext. The real philosophical agenda is anti-human, and in this regard, they recognize Ingrid Newkirk as one of their own.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Disability Rights Activist Says AP Euthanasia Misreporting Not Due to Ignorance

After I posted the blog below, I heard from Steven Drake, research analyst for the stellar disability rights activist groups, Not Dead Yet. I am printing his response because it seems to indicate that some in the media really don't want the facts to get in the way of their stories about euthanasia. For more on Not Dead Yet, here is its WEB site. Pay particular attention to the Hall of Shame link.

"Wesley,

In this particular case, it's not ignorance at work.

Last month, NDY blasted the AP for inaccuracies in reporting on euthanasia in the Netherlands. Diversity, Inc. wrote a story on it for their daily newsletter. It's still up at: http://www.diversityinc.com/public/16466.cfm

The reporter contacted the AP in his preparation for the story and couldn't get anyone to comment. They've been called on this in a very public way and this is not ignorance at work.

It's something else entirely.

-Steve-

Stephen Drake
Research Analyst
No Dead Yet"

Clueless Media

The media are usually clueless and hopeless when it comes to reporting stories about euthanasia, cloning, stem cell research, Terri Schiavo, and the like, accurately. They either misstate facts or omit information that is crucial to understanding the story. Sometimes, I think it is bias. Sometimes, I think it is ignorance. This AP story seems to be in the latter category.

The story is about Dutch infanticide. It claims that euthanasia is restricted to the terminally ill, which has never been true. It claims that patients are supposed to repeatedly ask for euthanasia, which is true, without mentioning that this requirement is routinely ignored without consequence. Thus, repeated government studies demonstrate that between 900-1000 patients are killed by doctors who have not requested euthanasia each year. It even has a name; "termination without request or consent."

And, it states that infanticide is just coming into the discussion, which is pure manure since Dutch medical associations have advocated it for years and the practice has even been featured in Dutch Government documentaries from more than ten years ago!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Fumento on the Latest Embryonic Stem Cell Failure

For years we have been told that one reason ES cells are superior to adult stem cells is that they are "immortal," that is, they can remain viable in culture indefinitely. Several previous studies cast doubts on this assertion, and now another one seems to have put it into its grave by demonstrating that over time ES cells develop mutations that could cause cancer. Ooops.

You would think this would give the media pause over the other hyped assertions made by ESCR proponents. But nooo. The collapse of this supposedly superior attribute is merely spun as a reason to spend even more money on the research.

I was going to Blog this story myself, but Michael Fumento beat me to it, and, as usual, his thoughts are right on the money. Check it out.

Debating Cloning on NPR

I was part of a one hour debate on a program aired on Wisconsin Public Radio last Sunday. (The program is called "Here on Earth.")

The first half hour was mostly taken up with Dr. Norman Fost giving the usual spin on stem cell research, including some misleading assertions, and my rather heated rejoinder. Nothing really novel there.

But in the second half hour, things got interesting when theologian Anne Foerst and I got into it over personhood theory. According to Foerst, there is nothing special about being human. Indeed, she denies the ability to create an objective way to judge human moral worth. What counts morally, she believes, is attaining the status of a "person."

We've seen this kind of thinking before, of course, in the writings and advocacy of bioethicists such as Peter Singer and James Hughes (Citizen Cyborg). Where Foerst parts company with the usual bioethics approach is that rather than measuring the organism's individual capacities, such as cognitive abilities, to determine personhood, she contends that "personhood" status depends on whether the organism is relational. In other words, Foerst apparently believes that moral worth depends on whether we are loved, wanted, and/or involved with others. Pretty scary if you are a psychotic homeless person alone in the world. Moreover, such a measuring stick would open the door to creating nascent life strictly for utilitarian purposes, such as organ farming, since these unborn humans would not be loved or wanted, other than for their body parts.

This discussion occurs in the second half of the hour. It's worth a listen.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Worries About Backlash Over Embryonic Stem Cell Hype

Some scientists are beginning to worry that proponents of ESCR and therapeutic cloning have overhyped their case. To say the least! And now they worry about a backlash and want to lower expectations. Sorry. Too late.

The coming disenchantment will be terrible because science is one of the few remaining institutions that retains the people's respect. Unfortunately, proponents have so politicized science in the search of a massive infusion of government funding that the sector now spins and distorts like any other special interest. Moreover, the billions that may be thrown at this research is unlikely to earn a return any time soon, perhaps leading to the next "dot com" bust. If pride goes before a fall, what does hubris and arrogance lead to?

Friday, September 02, 2005

Ingrid Newkirk Distraught at the Deaths from Katrina--of Animals!

Ingrid Newkirk, head of PETA, continues to amaze with her twisted sense of priorities. When some terrorists loaded a donkey with explosives in the Mideast and blew it up a few years ago in an attempt to murder scores of people, Newkirk sent a letter of protest to Yassar Arafat--about the death of the donkey. And now, with all of the human devastation and death from Katrina, she writes in her blog about the horror of the deaths of animals.

"Millions: that is a reasonable estimate of the number of animals who have perished in this hurricane and its aftermath. Consider the feral cat colonies, the terrestrial and arboreal and slow-moving wildlife like squirrels and opossums. People in boats report seeing the bodies of raccoons, pigs, chickens and foxes in the water. And then there are the animals who, by the thousands, were deliberately or simply unthinkingly abandoned."

Not one word of sorrow for the thousands of people who were floating in the water. No empathy expressed for those who lost family members and homes.

It is wonderful that some cats and dogs were saved, as she writes about. And it is horrible to know a beloved pet died in the flood. And yes, planning ahead to evacuate is a good idea, including taking pets when doing so does not risk human lives. But the first priority in these situations must always be people.

I don't believe that Newkirk understands this at all. To her a rat is a dog is a boy. Heck, she is still defending PETA's equating of the lynching of blacks with the killing of cattle for food.

And Now Fat Adult Stem Cells Are Coming Through

Just to let y'all know how often these reports are coming in these days, here's a very hopeful story of the many and varied uses fat stem cells apparently have to treat diseases of the heart, bones, and other areas of the body. Once again, embryonic stem cells can make no such claims.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Class Warfare in Missouri

The State of Missouri has decided, in its lack of wisdom, to make feeding tubes "optional" under Medicaid for poor people. This is class warfare in the truest sense of the term. If someone needs a feeding tube to survive, and if they can't afford to pay for the services, refusing to provide the treatment under Medicaid will usually be a death sentence. Missouri is also cutting off pillows to prevent bed sores, respiratory support, and other forms of treatment that can be necessary to keep people comfortable (or alive). This editorial in the St. Louis Post Dispatch has it just right.

Governor Blunt: You pander to the biotech industry and the Stowers Institute with your promotion of human cloning, while you cut off necessary care for poor people. Shame on you.