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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

War Against Elderly Patients in the UK--Nurse Struck From Rolls for Exposing Abuse



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A nurse in the UK reveals terrible abuse and neglect of elderly patients at a hospital in the UK. You'd think the powers that be would give her a medal. Nope. As I reported here yesterday, Margaret Haywood secretly filmed and proved how badly patients were being treated. Her reward? She's lost the right to be a nurse. From the story:
Nurse Margaret Haywood has been struck off the register with immediate effect after secretly filming for a BBC Panorama programme exposing neglect of elderly patients in a hospital.

Nurse Margaret Haywood secretly filmed the neglect of elderly patients Photo: PA Miss Haywood, 58, recorded appalling conditions at the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton for a BBC documentary screened in July 2005. She said: "I was convinced that it was the right thing to do at the time as, in fact, I had reported the issues and nothing had been done.
Yes, well the-powers-that-be don't like to be made to look bad--and so Nurse Haywood, you are a nurse no more! And with that, a very dangerous and insidious message has been sent to all medical personnel: You witness abuse and we decide to do nothing about it, you keep their mouths shut--or else!

And don't think neglect doesn't happen here in the USA. Backstage today, I heard an appalling story from an SHSer, of an elderly relative becoming dehydrated in a nursing home, and when it was discovered, of the Sisyphean effort it is taking just to get an IV put in ta vein to hydrate the relative and save the person's life!

Some days I want to pull out my hair.

Gene Complexity Makes Disease Prediction--and Transhumanism--Very Difficult



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A new report shows that predicting for health outcomes and creating genetic fixes for common diseases is very difficult. From the story:

The era of personal genomic medicine may have to wait. The genetic analysis of common disease is turning out to be a lot more complex than expected.

Since the human genome was decoded in 2003, researchers have been developing a powerful method for comparing the genomes of patients and healthy people, with the hope of pinpointing the DNA changes responsible for common diseases. This method, called a genomewide association study, has proved technically successful despite many skeptics' initial doubts. But it has been disappointing in that the kind of genetic variation it detects has turned out to explain surprisingly little of the genetic links to most diseases...

One issue of debate among researchers is whether, despite the prospect of diminishing returns, to continue with the genomewide studies, which cost many millions of dollars apiece, or switch to a new approach like decoding the entire genomes of individual patients.The unexpected impasse also affects companies that offer personal genomic information and that had assumed they could inform customers of their genetic risk for common diseases, based on researchers’ discoveries...

Unlike the rare diseases caused by a change affecting only one gene, common diseases like cancer and diabetes are caused by a set of several genetic variations in each person. Since these common diseases generally strike later in life, after people have had children, the theory has been that natural selection is powerless to weed them out.

"Weed out:" Now, there's an interesting term to apply to human beings.

Alas, we see parents already "weeding out" embryos that test positive for adult onset diseases or disabilities, part of the emerging new eugenics. And to see the way the wind is blowing, embryos are being weeded out if genetic testing shows they will have the wrong hair color.And consider this: If it is very hard to figure out the genetic causes of common disease, it will be difficult squared about transhumanist yearned-for enhancement techniques, such as increasing intelligence, stature, or other desired transhumanist morphologists.

I am certainly not against research into genetic causes for diseases. What we do with this information, of course, will be the rub.
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Two Blogs to Check Out About Biotechnology



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I put much time and effort into reporting stories here at SHS about stem cell research, human cloning, and other matters of biotechnology. But because SHS covers broad areas of concern and interest--and to keep our ponderings varied and lively--of necessity I may miss important stories in this area that you might want to know about.

But David Prentice doesn't miss them. He has a highly informative blog exclusively devoted to stem cell research. David's blog is a clearing house of stories in this field, and is of great value--particularly to those interested in the astounding number of adult stem cell research successes that keep coming down the pike. Regardless of your ethical perspective on these matters, if you care about stem cell research you will want to check out David's daily posts. Here is the link.

Jennifer Lahl, head of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, also has a good blog on these matters called The Human Future. Jennifer's interests are somewhat broader, also including transhumanism, IVF, protecting women from the dangers of egg extraction, and etc. Her blog is here.

Both of these writers and thinkers provide good information and may include matters of interest to you that I am unable to cover here. Their opinions are their own of course, and if you disagree, take it out on them.

Check David and Jennifer out, but y'all come back now. Hear?

NHS Meltdown: Blow the Whistle on Neglect of Elderly Patients--and You Take the Fall



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Our world is so upside-down. A nurse secretly filmed terrible neglect of elderly UK hospital patients--and she is sanctioned for misconduct! From the story:
An undercover nurse who carried out secret filming to reveal the neglect of elderly patients on a hospital ward was found guilty of misconduct. The Nursing and Midwifery Council ruled that Margaret Haywood, 58, had prioritised the filming of the BBC Panorama programme and not fulfilled her obligations as a nurse.

The Undercover Nurse programme, screened in July 2005, showed poor conditions at the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton. But chair of the panel, Linda Read, said that Ms Haywood "suspended her obligations ... to protect and support the health of individual patients" by making the film.
No she embarrassed the powers that be who permitted the neglect in the first place. That will teach anyone who wants to tell the people of the UK how bad things are getting in their hospitals!

I Was Right About Diabetes Story: No Big Headlines, Only Muted Coverage



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Yesterday, I wrote about a diabetes human trial using adult stem cells in which some of the patients were able to go off insulin. I predicted at the time that it wouldn't make big time headlines--as would happen if the exact same achievement happened with human patients using embryonic stem cells: From my blog:
We know that if this were an embryonic stem cell success, the headlines would swamp reportage of the financial crisis. But this is the wrong kind of stem cell success, so I expect, at most, muted coverage.
That's precisely what it received, muted coverage. New York Times; crickets chirping. Ditto, the Washington Post. And ditto again, the L.A. Times. No Boston Globe. No San Francisco Chronicle. Some on-line coverage in health and science publications. CNN had a small story. Time did too, not big though. Just what I expected. Hey, it did make the Times of India!

You see, successful human treatments don't count as news if they are from adult stem cells. That doesn't fit the media narrative that ESCR is the future. That is why a prospective Geron ESC human trial that might or might not work, got more coverage than these stories of an actual major success did put together.

Pathetic, biased, non journalism. Just pathetic.
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Adult Stem Cell Repair Successful in Horses to be Tried on People



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People who have badly damaged tendons may soon find relief from their own adult stem cells. From the story:
A stem-cell repair technique that has already been used to fix hundreds of injured race horses is to be tested for the first time in people with damaged Achilles tendons.

Privately owned British biotech firm MedCell Bioscience Ltd said on Wednesday it would start clinical tests within 12 months and planned to run a larger confirmatory study at several European hospitals in 2011.

Patients will receive injections containing millions of their own stem cells, which have been extracted and multiplied up in a laboratory, and can regenerate new tissue to repair damaged regions. More than 1,500 race horses have been treated using the same process and follow-up data suggests a 50 percent reduction in re-injury over a three year period, compared with conventional treatment.
Mr. Ed is pleased. Oops. I'm aging myself, aren't I?

Stowers Institute Only Has Itself to Blame as MO House Restricts State Funding of Life Sciences



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When the Stowers Institute Crowd financed and passed Amendment 2, it not only created a constitutional right to do human cloning research in Missouri, but as I pointed out during the campaign, it added a superfluous provision stating that if one kind of stem cell research received state support, other kinds could not be discriminated against. The purpose was--as we warned and the pro A. 2 debaters denied--to set the stage for state funding of Stowers and other efforts in the fields of ESCR and human cloning.

The ploy expected legislators to fund unethical research so that ethical research could also be funded. But that tactic has blown up in its face. The Missouri Legislature funds life sciences, but carefully restricts its scope so as to not put taxpayer money into areas that would also require cloning or ESC research to be funded. From HB 7, section 7.020, which just passed the MO House by a whopping 114-37 vote:
No later than December 31, 2009, the Life Sciences Research Board shall submit to the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Chairman of the House Budget Committee an annual report containing, at a minimum: a description of each grant awarded... These funds shall be used exclusively on projects in the fields of animal science, plant science, medical devices, biomaterials and composite research, diagnostics, nanotechnology related to drug development and delivery, clinical imaging, or information technology related to human health.
A court recently validated this approach against lawsuits claiming somehow that the state has to fund ESCR. Meanwhile, the Stowers Crowd continues to whine that it can't get researchers to move to MO to conduct unethical research because of these unfair restrictions. From the story:
"Expansion [of the Stowers Institute] probably now is more threatened by economic realities than it is by political realities. The economics of building a $300 million building are much different today."

"Political realities" translate to the parts of Missouri where much stem cell research is opposed. Although Stowers, founder of American Century Investments, heavily supported a successful 2006 referendum to amend the state constitution to protect certain forms of stem cell research
[Me: actually SCNT cloning research, but the Star is the most biased newspaper in the country when reporting on this issue], some Missouri lawmakers vowed to continue fighting against that research.

[William] Neaves said that had made it difficult to recruit top scientists, but now the institute is encouraging a pair of prominent stem cell researchers in Massachusetts--who had funding from the Stowers--to bring their labs to Kansas City. That funding is set to expire next year and will not be renewed. Both Kevin Eggan and Chad Cowan are considering whether to establish research programs at the Kansas City institute, Neaves said.
Stowers literally has billions, and it can fund whatever research it pleases. Its threats of funding restrictions to these researchers unless they move to Stowers, thus, must be seen as being about bully politics, not financial inability.

This is the power of non cooperation. Its message is clarion. Good for the legislators of MO for not buckling.

Lead Into Gold: Al Gore to Fund IPSCs



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Al Gore is set to head a venture capital foray into the very promising field of induced pluripotent stem cell research. From the story:

Former vice president Al Gore is entering the stem cell arena with an announcement today of a $20 million biotech venture in the hot area of "induced pluripotent" stem cells. Induced cells are attracting interest from researchers and biotech firms as an alternative to embryonic stem cells. Induced cells are made by inserting four genes into ordinary skin cells, and they offer a new path for "regenerative" medical treatments.

"I just think it's a very important breakthrough that is filled with promise and hope," says Gore, a partner with the venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, which is backing the research. "I think this is one of those good news stories that comes along every once in a while."
Too bad President Obama doesn't see it the same way: He revoked President Bush's executive order that would have required that promising areas of "alternatives" (to ESC) research, such as IPSCs, receive federal funding.

I could make a lame joke about Gore adding to carbon emissions by the lights that will be left on by these researchers and the emissions they will cause when driving to work, but I'll let it pass. (Isn't that snarky? I made the joke but pretended I didn't. I hate that!) Gore sees a real chance to make money in this field and he is grabbing it.

Applause.

SF Chronicle Columnist Gets It Right on Foie Gras



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Think of the animal rights movement as predators that threaten an entire herd: All the animals are under threat but it is the weak, stragglers, or isolated that face the most concerted attack.

Thus, while all animal research facilities are under threat, Huntingdon Life Sciences is the most vilified and its contractors and service providers most subjected to ancillary targeting. Why HLS? It was weakened, when years ago, a British television program showed a puppy being abused at a HLS facility. (Those responsible were fired and prosecuted, and properly so. Management had a turn over, and despite repeated attempts to pin further charges of abuse on HLS, to my knowledge, all have proved unfounded.) But that video set HLS apart, and it has been subjected to an unremitting and sometimes violent campaign to drive it out of business ever since. Activists know that if they can destroy HLS, no animal using industry is safe.

Similarly, all food industries are hated by animal rights activists, but steak and KFC is too popular to drive out of business or get politicians to ban. But foie gras, a specialty food made from overfeeding ducks and geese before slaughter to fatten their livers, is not a big part of most people's diets and so pressure on liberal politicians can lead to legal bans, as will take effect in CA beginning a few years from now. In San Francisco, liberal Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi (who I know and like from having worked with him during the Nader 2000 Presidential Campaign) wants SF to "commend" restaurants that refuse to serve foie gras. Not that big a deal as these matters go, but San Francisco Chronicle editorial writer and columnist Caille Millner (who is a colleague of Secondhand Smokette and a family friend) hits the nail on the head about the illogic of the anti-foie gras craze. From her column:

It's an easy issue - say "the geese" (even though nearly all foie gras is made from duck now) "have a tube put down their throats so that they can be force-fed," and people shudder. Most people are prone to anthropomorphize, so they imagine how horrible it would be to have a tube shoved down their own throat (ducks do not have voice boxes or gag reflexes; they breathe through their tongues) and agree that it's a horrible process that must be stopped. San Francisco's leadership was the latest to hop on this bandwagon, passing a "commendation" for local restaurants that remove foie gras from their menus.

Never mind that there are only three foie gras producers in the United States, all small farms that are paragons of humane treatment compared to our country's countless factory farms. "We were the first farm to use a humane auditor," said Rick Bishop, animal welfare officer for Hudson Valley Foie Gras in Ferndale, N.Y. "If you're a good farmer, you'll do this in a way that doesn't cause any distress to the ducks. We've always fought misinformation by having an open-door policy at our farm. Anyone who wants to see what we're doing is welcome to visit and observe at any step of the process." All three foie gras farms in the United States use open pens for their ducks and have very low mortality rates.

That squares with my research for my upcoming book (out in the fall).

Animal rights activists are trying to destroy the foie gras industry, not because it is cruel or causes terrible suffering to the birds. They want to destroy it because in the view of the movement, "Meat is murder." Thus, the entire herd is under threat but foie gras is a straggler, and so it is being specially targeted in the hopes that it will set a precedent for the eventual ban on other meat products which activists want none of us to be able to consume.

Conscience Clause Court Victory in Illinois



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A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order against the Governor of Illinois, protecting two pharmacists from having to dispense "Plan B" contraceptive pills due to religious objections. From the story:

A central Illinois judge has ruled that the state can't force two pharmacists with religious objections to abortion to dispense emergency contraception. Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Belz issued a temporary restraining order Friday until he can hear arguments against the rule from druggists who object on religious grounds.

The pill reduces the chance of pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sex. The pharmacists believe it's tantamount to abortion.

Belz is the same judge who sided with the state and dismissed the lawsuit filed in 2005 by Luke VanderBleek and Glenn Kosirog, who own five northern Illinois pharmacies between them...The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in December that the pharmacists' case must be heard. The court decided then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who issued a rule in 2005 ordering pharmacies to dispense the so-called "morning-after" pill, had made statements indicating there would be no exceptions. "You cannot enact a law that targets people because of their religious objection," Manion said Monday.

I hate it when the media report stories about these kinds of matters and state that so and so "believes" something. I don't know the answer to this question: But either Plan B works as an abortifacient or it doesn't. It isn't a matter of "belief."

In any event, this doesn't mean that the pharmacists have won the case. It merely means the rule can't be enforced for now. However, it does mean that the judge believes that the pharmacists could win their case, which is a clear change since his original ruling.

The issue of conscience clauses is just getting warmed up. It will be a huge bioethical issue for years to come.

Another Study Showing Adult Stem Cells Get Newly Diagnosed Diabetics Off of Insulin



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Great news: We have previously had human trials in which patients were weaned off of insulin with adult stem cells. Now, another study with newly diagnosed diabetes patients has achieved a similar success: And, it is written up in the Journal of the American Medical Association. From the abstract:

During a 7- to 58-month follow-up (mean, 29.8 months; median, 30 months), 20 patients without previous ketoacidosis and not receiving corticosteroids during the preparative regimen became insulin free. Twelve patients maintained this status for a mean 31 months (range, 14-52 months) and 8 patients relapsed and resumed insulin use at low dose (0.1-0.3 IU/kg)...Two patients developed bilateral nosocomial pneumonia, 3 patients developed late endocrine dysfunction, and 9 patients developed oligospermia. There was no mortality.

Conclusion After a mean follow-up of 29.8 months following autologous nonmyeloablative HSCT in patients with newly diagnosed type 1 DM, C-peptide levels increased significantly and the majority of patients achieved insulin independence with good glycemic control.

We know that if this were an embryonic stem cell success, the headlines would swamp reportage of the financial crisis. But this is the wrong kind of stem cell success, so I expect, at most, muted coverage. I'll keep an eye on how the media deal with (or ignore) this important breakthrough and report back tomorrow.

Terminal Nonjudgmentalism is Epidemic: Time fetes the Death on Demand Fanatic Philip Nitschke



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I shouldn't be surprised by anything the MSM does today in boosting social outlaws into cultural icons. For example, when Jack Kevorkian was at the top of his deadly game--even offering extracted kidneys from a disabled assisted suicide victim for transplant in a news conference--Time invited him as an honored guest to its gala 75th anniversary party where Tom Cruise ran up to shake his hand.

Now in "Foolproofing Suicide with Euthanasia Test Kits," Time gives the Down Under "Dr. Death," Philip Nitschke the star treatment. Nitschke has called for the right of troubled teens to get access to suicide pills. He advised an Australian woman named Nancy Crick on how to commit suicide--and in the public advocacy leading up to the deed, told the press she had terminal cancer. After she committed suicide in the presence of assisted suicide advocates--not Nitschke since he didn't want to risk legal consequences--those in attendance applauded when she took her poison. When Crick's autopsy showed that she was not terminal, Nitschke shrugged, said he knew it all along, and supported anybody's right to commit assisted suicide for any reason whatsoever. Nitschke also developed the so-called peaceful pill, a concoction of household goods that can make you dead. He holds how-to-commit suicide seminars all over the world.

That should rate him unequivocal condemnation. But Time swoons at his newest gambit: an assisted suicide test kit to make sure your poison makes you die. From the story:

Now, in an effort to provide certainty to those contemplating suicide, one of the world's leading euthanasia advocates plans to sell barbiturate testing kits to confirm that deadly drug cocktails are, in fact, deadly. "People who are seriously ill don't want to experiment," says Dr. Philip Nitschke, the physician known as 'Dr. Death' for his efforts to legalize euthanasia in his native Australia. "They want to know they have the right concentration of drugs so that if they take them in the suggested way it will provide them with a peaceful death."

The kits, which will debut in Britain in May and retail for $50, include a syringe that allows users to extract half a milliliter of barbiturate solution without breaking the sanitary seal. "Clearly sterility doesn't matter given that death is the desired outcome," Nitschke says. But the solution deteriorates slower in a sterile environment, allowing those with painful conditions to "lock it away in the back of the cupboard in case things gets too bad."
One point of the story is to say that if we legalized assisted suicide, Nitchke's valuable work wouldn't be necessary:
Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, believes that Nitschke has gone too far, but says his behavior is a function of a system that fails to address the needs of people living in pain. "The answer is not DIY kits or books, but a fully safeguarded law that protects the vulnerable and gives terminally ill adults the choice of an assisted death. Regrettably, without such a law, activism like this is likely to continue."
Baloney. Assisted suicide is illegal now and all manner of people are being offed at suicide clinics in Switzerland. We in the USA have traveling suicide clinics known as the Final Exit Network, whose fanatic members certainly don't limit their suicide "counseling" to the terminally ill. And if you legalized assisted suicide, say, for the terminally ill, the clinics would still "serve" the despairing disabled and the elderly tired of living. And once the law allowed this cohort to be served, there would still be the mentally ill--who already have a constitutional right in Switzerland to assisted suicide. And also, healthy spouses who want to go with their dying partner.

Oh, Wesley! Now you go too far. No I don't. It is already being planned

The head of a controversial assisted-suicide group in Switzerland says he will seek legal permission to help a Canadian woman and other healthy people like her kill themselves, raising startling new issues in the emotional debate over euthanasia. Betty Coumbias, an elderly Vancouver resident, has indicated she wants to die alongside her husband, George, who suffers from severe heart disease...

Mrs. Coumbias explains in the documentary, The Suicide Tourist, why she would take her own life despite being generally healthy. "From the day we got married, [my husband] was all my life," she tells Mr. Minelli. "I love my two daughters, but I love him more, and I don't think I can face life without him, and since we read about Dignitas, we felt what would be better than to die together, you know, to die in each other's arms?"

We are in a moral free fall into an abyss which has no bottom. And to borrow a famous quote from Chris Matthews about another matter, the MSM is getting a thrill up its collective leg.

Secondhand Smoke Named One of Top Fifty “Business Ethics Blogs”



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This is a nice surprise. A professional site called Online MBA Guide has named SHS one among the "50 Best Business Ethics Blogs." We weigh in at #45. Thanks MBA Guide!

Stanley Fish Ain’t for Conscience Clauses for Medical Professionals



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As I often say, the culture of death brooks no dissent. Now, none other than the celebrated academic Stanley Fish--perhaps best known for promoting post modernism (although he says he is an anti foundationalist, and who cares anyway)--claims that doctors and nurses who don't wish to take human life should just get over it. From his NYT (of course) blog:

What's the big deal [if doctors refuse to perform some procedures], for after all, "If a procedure is legal, a patient will still have the ability to access that service from a medical professional or institution that does not assert a conflict of conscience" (HHS News Release, August 21, 2008).

But should patients be asked to add to the problems they already have the problem of having to figure out (if they have the time) which providers will be willing to treat them? When a professional hangs out his shingle doesn't he offer his services and skills to the public and not just to members of it who share his morality? Isn't it a matter of conscience (in Hobbes's sense) to abide by the rules that define the profession you've signed up for?
But taking life is definitely not what many doctors and nurses "signed up for." Indeed, forty years ago, they would have all been expected to refuse to abort, at least when the request was for an elective abortion, and certainly would have been expected never to euthanize. And it is only very recent trends that have put doctors and other medical professionals in the situation where they may be expected to take life rather than save it.

Medicine is changing, becoming almost as much an on-demand lifestyle choice enhancing technocracy as it is a healing and palliating profession. Some in the field may wish to deprofessionalize themselves by becoming on-demand deadly service providers; the customer is always right. But we should protect those still-professionals who choose to remain wedded to the orthodox Hippocratic view of what it means to be a doctor, or for that matter, nurse, pharmacist, etc.

I doubt Fish would object one iota if doctors refused to be complicit in executions. Nor would I. But surely, if doctors can refuse to have anything to do with the execution of murderers, even if it is merely to declare death, they they should be equally protected against legal medical procedures that kill.

But that's the thing about post modernism, or anti-foundationalism, or whatever: There is no such thing as concrete concepts of right and wrong or universal principles. It all just depends.

Animal Rights Extremists Post Pictures and Bios of “Informers, Infiltrators, Snitches and Agents” Online



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This could be very dangerous to the health and safety of FBI agents and others: The radical North American Animal Liberation Press Office--run by Dr. Jerry Vlasak, who has yearned for the murder of animal researchers--has created a Web site containing photos of FBI Agents, animal rights activists who have cooperated with law enforcement, and others. Worse, there is a thinly veiled call for some of these people to be harmed, or even murdered. (I have decided not to link this.) At the top of the list of names, how the person allegedly harmed the animal liberation movement, and photos of the people, is this quote (my emphasis):
For the sake of clarity, let us be uncomfortably honest: to snitch is to take a life. By words and by weapons, each day lives are taken in the most egregious of crimes. When this happens in the courtroom, we call it "cooperation". I call it violence, and I call anything done to keep an informant out of the courtroom "self defense." -- Peter Young, animal liberation prisoner
Readers of SHS will recall that when some Santa Cruz animal rights radicals left wanted posters in coffee shops with the names and addresses of animal researchers, it resulted in one of the researcher's home being fire bombed and his children having to escape down a rope escape ladder from a smoke-filled house. Simultaneously, the car of another listed researcher was destroyed by a bomb.

This is volatile and very dangerous stuff. It is intended to intimidate. It is intended to impede law enforcement. It is intended to result in people getting hurt. I think it goes beyond free speech and could result in someone being made dead. That would be a Rubicon, no turning back.

Environmental Radicals Arrested in UK: Charged with Plot Against Power Plant



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Radical environmentalism is growing, I fear, and its activists are increasingly willing to act against the interests and needs of human beings. In the UK, more than 100 people were arrested, charged with plotting to sabotage a power plant, which could have left tens of thousands of people without power. From the story:
Officers swooped on environmental protesters as they prepared a mass raid that could have disrupted supplies to tens of thousands of homes. The demonstrators are thought to have gathered at night in readiness to move on Ratcliffe-on-Soar power-station, Nottinghamshire. Detectives later revealed they recovered specialist equipment that suggested the group represented a "serious threat" to the station's safety...

Supt [Mike] Manley said: "In view of specialist equipment recovered by police, those arrested posed a serious threat to the safe running of the site.
Radical environmentalism is becoming a serious problem on many fronts. Some of these people won't be happy until we revert to being hunter-gatherers. Check that: until we revert to being mere gatherers.

And Yet Another Assisted Suicide Story Without Presenting One Opposing View



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This is standard operating procedure in the MSM these days, but it is always worth pointing out: The media are so wildly biased on some issues, they report about them as if there were only one side to the debate. Assisted suicide is fast becoming one of those monochrome issues from which opposing views are airbrushed out of the big picture as surely as Trotsky was erased from old photos of the Bolshevik Revolution by Stalin.

In Washington, where many doctors and hospitals are refusing to cooperate with the killing agenda--as is their right under the law--pro assisted suicide campaigners are ramping up the pressure to coerce complicity. The Seattle Times, byline Laura Kate Zaichkind dancing a jig to the tune fiddled by Compassion and Choices (formerly Hemlock Society), has written a second story about pressure being placed on doctors to write lethal prescriptions. True to form, no contrary opinions are included. From the story:
The organization [C and C] distributed a letter signed by six physicians Friday to all doctors in the state who have practices treating patients who might be terminal or deal with end-of-life decisions and care. The letter urges them to support patients who decide to use Death With Dignity...

Compassion and Choices urges physicians statewide who are willing to participate in the act to contact the organization so patients struggling to access the service can be referred. The nonprofit also is encouraging the state medical association and county medical societies to use Compassion and Choices to help provide education about the act. "There's clearly much work to be done," said Dr. Tom Preston, Compassion and Choices' medical director.
And what about letting readers know the reasons why doctors might want to say no? Perhaps an interview with a non cooperating physician or views from an assisted suicide opponent? Not on your life: Just like Zaichkind's story last week reporting on one man's inability to receive assisted suicide presented only one side of the issue, she apparently can't comprehend that there might actually be reasons for the non cooperation campaign.

It used to be that reporters knew that there were two (or more) sides to controversial stories. Apparently they don't teach that in journalism school anymore.

The Great Stem Cell Debate: Lines That Divide Released by the Center for Bioethics and Culture



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The CBC has produced and now released The Great Stem Cell Debate: Lines That Divide, a documentary that will soon be aired on television and perhaps in theaters. Jennifer Lahl, the CBC's head, has worked her finger to the bones getting this film done and distributed. (Yes, I am in it.) I have seen a rough cut. It is informative, engaging, and provocative.

Anyway, more about when the film can be seen when I have more information. But hit this link for a preview (for Facebook members only). And this link for a shorter preview (featuring moi), and if you are so inclined, the link to purchase a DVD.

Another Example of How Science is Being Corrupted by Politics and Desire for Funds



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George Bush was often accused of politicizing science. But the real truth is that science has been corrupted from within by too often slouching into blatant ideological advocacy or money-driven agendas.

And here's an unintended admission of that very point. The New York Times Magazine ran a story a few weeks ago on a global warming skeptic named Freemon Dyson called "The Civil Heretic." The current edition's letters to the editor are all opposed to Dyson's view--a standard approach for the NYT that I believe uses its letters-to-the-editor pages as another way of editorializing (in addition to editorials, imbalanced op/ed pages, and news stories). But one letter stood out in its clear admission that the "science" of global warming is not science as much as politics. From the letter by Monika Kopacz, a Ph.D. candidate in applied mathematics and atmospheric sciences, Harvard University:
It is no secret that a lot of climate-change research is subject to opinion, that climate models sometimes disagree even on the signs of the future changes (e.g. drier vs. wetter future climate). The problem is, only sensational exaggeration makes the kind of story that will get politicians'-- and readers'-- attention. So, yes, climate scientists might exaggerate, but in today's world, this is the only way to assure any political action and thus more federal financing to reduce the scientific uncertainty.
Whoa: Now there's an admission worth noting! Clearly, we should put little stock into what these "scientists" tell us about the global warming because they are not providing objective facts from which we can glean proper policy options. Rather, they are intentionally and sensationally exaggerating their findings to win political points, promote their favored policy outcomes, and get more money for research.

I doubt she meant it this way, but Kopacz's letter is as pure and succinct an indictment of the ongoing corruption of science as I have yet seen.

Why the Courts Have Become a Leading Edge in the Coup de Culture



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This interview by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is frightening in its candor about how she apparently perceives her job as one of establishing "right" policy--which, in her case are of the Left Intellectual Elite--as opposed to interpreting and applying law as it was created by the political branches of government, that is to say, by the people. In an interview with the New York Times, she explains why she believes the rulings of foreign judges should be considered in interpreting US constitutional and statutory law: From her interview:
Justice Ginsburg said the controversy was based on the misunderstanding that citing a foreign precedent means the court considers itself bound by foreign law as opposed to merely being influenced by such power as its reasoning holds. "Why shouldn't we look to the wisdom of a judge from abroad with at least as much ease as we would read a law review article written by a professor?" she asked.

She added that the failure to engage foreign decisions had resulted in diminished influence for the United States Supreme Court. The Canadian Supreme Court, she said, is "probably cited more widely abroad than the U.S. Supreme Court." There is one reason for that, she said: "You will not be listened to if you don’t listen to others."
We are supposed to care whether Canadian rulings--which hew sharply to the left--are cited by foreign judges more than those of the US Supreme Court? We are supposed to care if another country's courts interprets its laws and constitution the way we do ours? Our judges are supposed to be diplomats to make other countries feel we respect their views?

Baloney. This is an excuse for a power grab. And in Ginsberg's attitudes, you see clearly why many judges "move," or "mature," or "grow"--pick the word--from "left" to "right:" Left is where the power is. Left allows judges to remake society according to their own personal views.

Let's not kid a kidder: The foreign cases that the former head of the ACLU Ginsberg cites will only be the ones with which she agrees--generally from Western Europe or Canada, that reflect her leftist views on social, economic, and environmental issues. And in crafting cases she hopes will be popular with our betters abroad, she will cater to these same leftist perspectives. You sure won't see her citing Islamic court rulings on the rights of women! So it isn't being foreign that is important, it is finding a hook upon which you can hang your legal hat to justify your ideological ruling.

And make no mistake: the judges who hold Ginsberg's views happily conflate their political desires with the mandates of the constitution, meaning that we are in witnessing a bloodless revolution led by judges that is intent on overthrowing the traditional standards of Judeo-Christian/humanistic moral philosophy of our (the US's) founding, which I believe remain the majority belief of the people. But "the judges" think that such views are for rubes. They are intent on refashioning society based on a utilitarian/hedonistic/radical environmentalist ideology to which they subscribe.

And that is why we see so many cases decided today that create constitutional rights that nobody ever knew existed--in order to force the country to adopt policies that the few think should apply to the many. And in that is a profound loss of freedom.

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