Marlowe's Shade

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Hwang Effect

Wesley Smith continues to chronicle the aftershocks of The Great Korean Stem Cell Meltdown at Secondhand Smoke.

Suspicions of Hwang's earlier research will inevitably shake researchers' faith in the prospect of clone based therapies themselves:

"We're back to knowing that animal cloning is possible but wondering whether it is possible in humans," adds Kevin Eggan of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "This is an enormous setback.

Also it seems that the Korean scientific community has called for their government to punish him. In a matter of weeks he has gone from posterboy to pariah

This quote from a local biotech firm is interesting:

Robert Lanza, who heads a competing cloning group at Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, Massachusetts, also queries Hwang's work on cloned pig embryos, published in Molecular Reproduction and Development (vol 72, p 88). In this paper, which has not been retracted, different images showing levels of gene activity seem to be identical. Hwang denies this is a problem. "It is something we will have to look into," says Ralph Gwatkin, the journal's editor-in-chief.

ACT had created a cloned embryo that soon died and never produced stem cells. Oddly, being considered an also-ran to Hwang may turn into a positive for them. But they have had their own issues with objective reporting of their results:

Just days before the release of the human-embryo news, a different phase of ACT's work was being challenged by Rudolf Jaenisch, a biologist and animal cloning pioneer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Whitehead Institute. The issue then was ACT's assertion that 24 surviving cloned cows (of 30) are "clinically ... normal."

"To say they are normal is not correct," Jaenisch told Reuters. "They are normal by the criteria they (ACT researchers) used. These criteria are very superficial." Jaenisch also noted that it took more than 400 implanted embryos to produce the 30 cloned cows.

But ACT's team maintained the company's claim of the cloned cows' normality is correct: "We did not observe genetic defects, immune deficiencies, gross obesity or other drastic abnormalities cited by other researchers," researchers wrote in their report.

And less than a year ago they were lauding Hwang's group as the model for the US to emulate:

South Korea's World Stem Cell Hub could become the leading center for stem cell and therapeutic cloning research, because of the chilling effect U.S. policy has had on stem cell research, according to Dr. Robert Lanza, Vice President for Medical & Scientific Development of Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. (OTCBB: ACTC), and Professor Ronald Green, Director of Dartmouth's Ethics Institute and chair of Advanced Cell Technology's Ethics Advisory Board, writing in the November 24th issue of the scientific journal Nature. "It reflects how far the United States has fallen behind its competitors in this pivotal area and how much the lack of federal leadership has handicapped US efforts," allege Lanza and Green.

I can only hope that this setback for the embryonic stem cell/cloning industry will hasten it's being completely eclipsed by adult stem cell advances.
papijoe 12:20 PM |

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Euthanasia Reports from Around the World

Several stories of interest in my inbox this morning. The latest news on several of the usual suspects we've been following on Marlowe's Shade

Philip Nitschke despite his move to New Zealand, is still pushing for euthanasia in his native Australia. Tasmania seems to be his next target.

A Cambodian governor has made good on his threat to close down a US National who was running a euthanasia website, according to China's People's Daily. His internet cafe has been closed down because the site was run out of there. He would be allowed to run any other business that doesn't involve euthanasia sites.

Belgium has now given the go-ahead to pharmacists to provide euthanasia drugs to doctors, and a Swiss hospital will allow physician-assisted suicide.

And finally as sort of a footnote to yesterday's post, a Gallup poll shows that 94% of Americans believe in God. While I probably wouldn't agree with most of them in other areas of doctrine, it at least gives me hope that the militant secularists still have some work to do.
papijoe 7:25 AM |

Monday, December 19, 2005

The War on the Soul

I was flipping through channels this weekend and came across a neurologist named Sam Harris on C-SPAN. He was speaking at the NY Society for Ethical Culture on his new book The End of Faith.

In a few sentences he managed to cause an epiphany of how far radical secularism has advanced and how very close this movement is to effecting an eradication of any belief in the supernatural.

His arguments are firmly rooted in the scientific bigotry that anything that hasn't been accepted by the modern empirical canon is not open for discussion. The statements that caught my attention were embedded in what seemed to be a longer general diatribe against the concept of the soul. To paraphrase he stated that the idea of the sanctity of the life of an embryo was absurd because of the fact that an embryo could divide and then represent two souls or two embryos could combine to form what is called a chimera, raising the question of what happened to the other soul? The upshot was that these puzzling questions made the notion of the soul absurd. There are many points that could be discussed here, especially since this argument is loaded with assumptions. But the simplest flaw is that because the possibility of a soul doesn't fit Harris' materialistic model, it is discarded without at least questioning if the model is wrong.

From what I've read Mr Harris' arguments based on reviews of his book, interviews and his website, he doesn't concede that faith has contributed one single good thing to humanity, yet fails to explain how the human race managed to survive the insidious delusion of faith for so many millenia. One would also think that a cataloger of the evils of religion would have a better response to the charge that the greatest secular challenger to faith, Communist, was quantifiably much more destructive than any faith it supplanted.

Communism was not an attempt to erase faith. It was a new faith, albeit one that did not look beyond this life. Communism was shot through with irrationality.

I have no argument that Communism was irrational, but it was the product of the Age of Reason, and the "logical" conclusion of the secular thought life of the time. It grew out of the same soil of materialism in which Harris' arguments are rooted. For someone who would enforce thought life based entirely on this conception of human reason, Mr Harris has a poor grasp of logic, as illustrated in a second point he made. Again, arguing against the idea of a soul being associated with embryonic human life, he postulated that with "advancing technology" the genetic material of of any cell could be cloned into an adult organism. Therefore when the President scratches his nose he commits a Holocaust. The entire room broke up with that punchline.

Setting aside the same ghastly moral equivalency we've come to expect from kindred groups like PETA, and overlooking the rhetorical cheat of basing his argument on technology that has yet to be developed, his comparison of two different types of cells that have no relation to each other for the purpose of this argument reveals what is so irrational and prejudicial about radical secular agendas. The logical flaw of comparing a single embryo which has the potential to grow into a unique human being, and a single specialized cell in the human body itself should be evident to anyone with out this anti-faith ax to grind.

Materialists will no doubt continue to deny the existence of anything their five senses don't preceive. This would include their own emotional and thought lives and perhaps this is why they can't attain the objectivity that they claim like a birthright. But what shocks me is the call to eradicate faith, as if soon kangaroo court of secularists have been given jurisdiction over faith and that the verdict has a already been declared and sentence passed. Read these reviews of Harris' book and you will see that the secular elite in our media are ready to roll in their campaign to exterminate any manifestation of faith in our culture. They have their causa belli, now all they need is someone in office to carry out the Final Solution to the faith question. Secularists have thrown down the gauntlet and we can't pretend that the challenge isn't out in the open now.
papijoe 7:37 AM |

Friday, December 16, 2005

Fraud Confirmed by Another Hwang Colleague and Seoul National University

Another co-author of the now discredited study in Science, Roh Sung-il and the Seoul National University have proclaimed that Dr Hwang's study was faked. It now appears that the pictures of the stem cells and the DNA fingerprints that the entire paper was based on were completely fabricated.

This calls for an overhaul of the entire peer review system. But as many commenters have pointed out, that also has to include strict enforcable ethical guidelines that respect human life. Any attempt at "bio-ethics", without acknowledging the fundemental biological truth of "personhood" of human life from it's inception renders all other ethical considerations meaningless.

I'm not a big fan of legislating morality, but maybe the scientific community needs its own version of Sarbanes-Oxley so that anyone who vets or puts their name on a study is responsible for its veracity and liable for any fraud or damages.
papijoe 9:09 AM |

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Great South Korean Cloning Meltdown

Dr Hwang's house of cards continues to collapse around him:

Some of stem cell researcher Hwang Woo-suk's high-profile human cloning work announced earlier this year may have been "fabricated," a former top collaborator charged as he attempted to distance himself from the groundbreaking research. University of Pittsburgh researcher Gerald Schatten has demanded that the journal Science remove him as the senior author of a report it published in June to international acclaim that detailed how individual stem cell colonies were created for 11 patients through cloning.

"My careful re-evaluations of published figures and tables, along with new problematic information, now casts substantial doubts about the paper's accuracy," Schatten wrote in a letter to Science released late Tuesday by the university. "Over the weekend, I received allegations from someone involved with the experiments that certain elements of the report may be fabricated."

Three cheers for Gerald Schatten for coming forward. Hopefully this will dispel the carefully constructed myth of "therapeutic cloning" that masquerades as an actual cure. Let's hope that similar initiatives will be scrutinized more closely.
papijoe 8:51 AM |

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Human Cost of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Some how I managed to go almost a whole week without quoting a post by Wesley Smith, so let me rectify that...

He posted this commentary by Nigel Cameron and Tina Stevens on how the scandal in South Korea highlights how ignoring ethical concerns and the law of unintended consequences can quickly turn what should be principled scientific inquiry into the circus that Dr Hwang's career has become.

News that the world's leading cloning expert, Hwang Woo Suk, resigned after admitting unethical research practices stunned the science community. His World Stem Cell Hub had been touted as South Korea's attempt to corner the market in clonal embryos and their stem cells.

As legislators, courts and editorial boards grapple with the fallout from California's own cloning controversy -- the $3 billion bonanza for grant-hungry researchers and risk-averse biotech companies intent on corporate welfare to fund their research -- it's time to take stock. When the world's top cloner becomes the first international scandal of the "biotech century," we need to start asking questions.

Hwang's disgrace stems from the cover-up over the source of the eggs needed for his experiments. After denying rumors about the source of some eggs at his lab in Seoul, Hwang admitted late last month that two subordinate scientists at the lab had indeed donated their eggs for research. He also admitted that a doctor had paid some women for eggs used at the lab. These are no mere details; they go to the heart of the ethical problems with human-cloning technology and should have been front-and-center in California's debate over Proposition 71 a year ago, had the initiative's proponents not outspent its detractors by more than 50 to 1 and the media not given them uncritical support.

They go on to lay out the "supply chain" problem with embryonic stem cell research:

When apologists for "therapeutic cloning" speak airily of hopes of cures, not only are they guilty of hype, they fail to disclose that every single cloning effort requires eggs. These eggs are not laid by chickens. They must be extracted, after more than a week of powerful, daily hormone injections, by inserting a needle into a woman's ovary -- an unpleasant procedure leading sometimes to serious long-term health problems from ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. There are complaints from thousands of women who have taken these hormones. There is also no conclusive research putting to rest speculation connecting the drugs to ovarian cancer.

An although the media ignores this aspect of ESCR, this problem was not unexpected:

Some of us said all along that the only way cloning researchers would ever get anything near the number of eggs they needed would be through unethical channels. We thought they would go to poor women in poor countries, which is one reason so much of the developing world supported the U.N. global cloning ban. California should ban payments for egg donation for embryonic stem cell/embryonic cloning research. Stiff penalites for violations should be enforced. Moreover, it should proceed only after serious, independent, medical study aimed at addressing unanswered concerns over the long-term effects of hormones and egg extraction takes place. Only then can the state offer a meaningful and fully "informed consent."

And certainly this isn't the only serious ethical issue that ESCR presents. But it certainly was one that hasn't been properly addressed.
papijoe 1:06 PM |

Monday, December 12, 2005

Weekend Round-up

Friday was a snow day [working but no time to post] and my inbox was full of all kinds of euthanasia-related stories this morning.

The Czech Republic is struggling with the question of legalizing euthanasia. President Vaclav Klaus could sign a bill effectively de-criminalizing the practice. Based on this statement, it's easy to see why he is confused:

"The endless prolongation of some people's lives seems to be bad. However, it is also important who asks for euthanasia, who is supposed to carry it out and under what conditions," Klaus said.

Quote from Dutch parents who euthanized their daughter: "I'm convinced that if we meet again somewhere in heaven," her father said, "she'll tell us we reached the most perfect solution."

On a related note, the Dutch actually jailed a 73 year old right-to-die activist [with the inappropriate name of Jan Hilarius] for committing euthanize, reminding us that it is technically still illegal! Doctors are heavily protected from prosecution for euthanasia, and it seems that the law is being used to protect their privileged position as official executioners.

They are routinely ignored by the mainstream media and reports of new adult stem cell cures are so common these day that even pro-life advocates can take them for granted. But this report of child whose life was saved by cord blood stem cells is amazing.

And finally, an American and Korean university will investigate whether cloning researcher Dr Hwang faked his results:

Seoul National University and the University of Pittsburgh say they will launch investigations into embryonic stem cell research and cloning efforts of Hwang Woo-suk to make sure none of the results in his studies were fabricated. The probes follow complaints that Hwang's team submitted the wrong photos to the medical journal Science to accompany an article on the research results.

But based on this, I'm not expecting any objectivity:

SNU convened a meeting of senior officials at Hwang's request and agreed to conduct an inquiry. Hwang is a veterinary professor at the college. "We have decided to re-examine the research because Dr. Hwang himself wants it," Roe Jung-hye, chief of research policy office of the university, told reporters after the meeting, according to a Korean Herald news report. Roe said Hwang asked for the probe after the allegations came forward that he fabricated some of his research.

This sounds more promising:

Meanwhile, the University of Pittsburgh is also investigating the team's research because of the involvement of Gerald Schatten, who resigned from Hwang's team when the egg donation cover-up came to light.

I'm a little more confident that the university will be eager to avoid any taint if Dr Hwang's research turns out to be fraudulent.
papijoe 8:57 AM |

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Narnia "In the beginning..."

Did you see The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe this weekend? Maybe you read the book?

My oldest has a picture-book version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and we have the Focus on the Family audio version of all the Chronicles of Narnia on CD. By getting her hooked on the stories, I feel I've already fulfilled one of my major duties as a parent. We plan to take her to the movie next Friday.

There are few successful Christian sagas. Certainly there are great works like Paradise Lost, Pilgrim's Progress, and The Divine Comedy. There were only two epics that established a Christian ethos in the rich mythopoetic world of Faerie. Isn't it interesting that the authors were good friends in their early years?

The modern fantasy tale that treats magical abilities as a goal is a literary anomaly in that the acquisition of power knows no bounds. Even in ancient tales of the pagan world, Faerie was a perilous place for mortals and even the heroes of best character usually didn't escape unscathed.

One reason the modern tale lacks a moral undergirding is that it isn't established at some point of origin. Like the Judeo-Christian beliefs they reflect, both Tolkien's pantheon and Lewis' Narnia have their own version of the Creation Story. If more than three of our readers have finished Silmarillion, I'd be impressed. Few outside of Tolkien's most hardcore fans have read it and even these scholars admit that it is somewhat esoteric. However the Narnian version of Genesis contained in The Magician's Nephew is very accessible and satisfying to readers of his other books. It is the story of two children, Polly and Digory who wake an ancient evil that pursues them to this world and beyond. It was written last in the series but occurs first chronologically in the narrative of the Chronicles. It answers many of the questions that Jack Lewis received from fans regarding the origins of the key characters and features of the other stories. Where did Queen Jadis come from and what makes her so wicked? Why was there a lampost in the middle of nowhere in Narnia? How does the wardrobe get there, and what makes it magical? What connection did the professor have to Narnia?

The highlight of the book is in witnessing the creation of Narnia itself. Like Tolkien's Creator, Iluvatar, Aslan literally sings this world into existance. The result is both metaphysically satisfying and easy for even the youngest children to conceive. And as in Genesis there is transgression and a great moral dilemma to be solved. As in the best of Lewis' works these ethical object lessons not only teach values but enhance the enjoyment of the tale. And of course the lessons are not for children alone, as we see in the end when Aslan warns the Polly and Digory of the dangers of becoming like Charn, the world of Jadis, before returning them to our world:

[Polly asks,] "But we're not quite as bad as that world, are we Aslan?"

Not yet, Daughter of Eve," he said. "Not yet. But you are growing more like it. It is not certain that some wicked one of your race will not find out a secret as evil as the Deplorable Word and use it to destroy all living things. And soon, very soon, before you are an old man and an old woman, great nations in your world will be ruled by tyrants who care no more for joy and justice and mercy than the Empress Jadis. Let your world beware. That is the warning..."

If you haven't seen The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe I hope this whets your appetite. If you have seen it and are anxious to go on to the next in the series, my suggestion is to wait. And go back. To the Beginning.
papijoe 10:49 AM |

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Is New Israeli Law Euthanasia?

From The Telegraph. Hat tip: Marine Momma

Machines will perform euthanasia on terminally ill patients in Israel under legislation devised not to offend Jewish law, which forbids people taking human life.

A special timer will be fitted to a patient's respirator which will sound an alarm 12 hours before turning it off.

Normally, carers would override the alarm and keep the respirator turned on but, if various stringent conditions are met, including the giving of consent by the patient or legal guardian, the alarm would not be overridden.

Similar timing devices, known as Sabbath clocks, are used in the homes of orthodox Jews so that light switches and electrical devices can be turned on during the Sabbath without offending religious strictures.

Parliamentarians reached a solution after discussions with a 58-member panel of medical, religious and philosophical experts.

"The point was that it is wrong, under Jewish law, for a person's life to be taken by a person but, for a machine, it is acceptable," a parliamentary spokesman said.

"A man would not be able to shorten human life but a machine can."

First, I think it's inappropriate to call removal of artificial life support "euthanasia". If a patient is not improving and they depend on a respirator to stay alive and it isn't their wish to do so, I see nothing morally wrong with letting nature take its course. Death isn't being "hastened", which is my working definition of euthanasia.

I understand the reason for the machines to avoid breaking Jewish law. I do find the "automation" aspect unsettling and I hope this solution doesn't get misapplied outside of Israel.
papijoe 8:39 AM |

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Busy News Day

Too many stories and not enough time to give each the post it deserves.

There's an new case in Massachusetts in which the State wants to take an 11 year old girl who was put into a coma by abusive an abusive couple that adopted her off of her ventilator and feeding tube. A very sad and complicated case.

I was aware of high rates of gender selection abortion and female infanticide in China, but India has a similar problem. Combined with China, this will have devastating social effects in Asia in coming generations as described here.

LifeSite has a great quote in a profile of an UN opponent of the successful abstinence program in Uganda. A Ugandan official pleads with Kofi Annan to remove Stephen Lewis, Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa and Canadian condom-monger:

In his letter Mr. Ssempa stated that Mr. Lewis “is using the entire body of the UN for his personal agenda of condomizing the developing nations. Why he has the audacity to fight the only nation which has demonstrated success in reducing HIV/AIDS is utterly beyond me.”

He went on to say that “Mr. Lewis is further sinking the credibility of the UN in the Great Lakes region in that Mr. Lewis is the type that reminds us of the UN staff who did nothing to stop the genocide in Rwanda where close to a million Africans were butchered under the close supervision of the UN.” Mr. Ssempa also demanded to know “why isn’t Lewis talking about Botswana, South Africa and other nations which have taken UNAIDS advice of more condoms but now have the highest rates of HIV in the world? Why is he picking on Uganda which has been a shining example of behaviour change since 1988?”

Finally, Mr. Ssempa stated, “We are tired of these western officials who fly in a few hours and become experts in our campaign. Steve (sic) Lewis should come to Uganda and spend a few months at the feet of activists who are on the frontline ... He is spending far too much time doing teleconferences, flying from conference to conference and listening to his stooges who keep telling him what he wants to hear...’there is not enough condoms. Send us more so we can condomise the world’.”

Mr. Ssempa ended his open letter with a direct plea that leaves no doubt about his frustration: “Kofi Annan, do us a favor. Fire this Steve (sic) Lewis and restore credibility to the institution of United Nations.”

Finally Jack Kevorkian may be at Death's door. However with a sympathetic biopic in the works, it appears that the mainstream media will make him an even greater hero in death than he was for them in life.
papijoe 8:24 AM |

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

South Korean President Wants Dr Hwang Back

I haven't seen anyone get this much of a pass from the press and government since...well, Bill Clinton...

Embryonic stem cell research scientist Hwang Woo-suk may have created an international scandal for admitting he lied about egg donations made by female junior researchers, but the president of South Korea wants him back in the laboratory

Wait, it gets better:

Revelations that he covered up for members of his research team who unethically donated their own eggs for research caused those relationship bridges to collapse.

But South Korea President Roh Moo-hyun wants him back in the saddle.

Presidential spokesman Kim Man-soo told Reuters, "He is looking forward to Prof. Hwang returning to research as early as possible and giving hope to the number of patients suffering from incurable diseases who await the result of the research, as well as to the people in the country."

Roh said the South Korean government would continue to support Hwang's research and provide him with substantial taxpayer backing.

"The president said he conveys his words of solace for the pain suffered by Prof. Hwang and his team during the course of their work," he told Reuters.

But some of Dr Hwang's colleagues are not happy:

Despite the government support, other researchers in South Korea worry about the effect the scandal will have on them, including their efforts to be published in foreign medical journals.

"More Koreans are writing for foreign magazines and we're worried about how this will affect us," Yang Yoon-sun, head of Medipost, a Seoul-based biotechnology firm, told the JoongAng Daily newspaper.

But overall the message to Dr Hwang is: "Come back, all is forgiven!"
papijoe 9:41 AM |

Is Euthanasia Doc Survey Objective?

Because I've seen so many surveys skewed by subliminally suggestive phrasing, I tend to be dismissive, particularly when I don't like the results. This is certainly the case with many of the recent surveys on euthanasia, and there is of course the possibility that sour grapes could be causing me to ignore a growing acceptance of euthanasia rather than confronting it. However Wesley J Smith for one has shown how more factually and objectively worded polls can tell a different story.

The mainstream media also tends to ignore polls that show euthanasia as being less popular than supposed, while shouting those that support that view from the rooftops. This latest poll from The Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center seems to fall into the latter category. That isn't a slam on the hospital, it seems to have a stellar reputation and what I could see of it's bio-ethical orientation seems to lean toward pro-life. But it immediately spread like a brush fire throughout the MSM.

There is little evidence to support the argument that legalizing physician-assisted death would reduce patients' trust in their doctors, according to a researcher from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and colleagues.

"Overall, three times as many people disagree as agree that legalizing physician-assisted death would cause them to trust their personal doctors less," said Mark Hall, J.D., professor of public health sciences at Wake Forest Baptist and Fred D. and Elizabeth L. Turnage Professor of Law at Wake Forest University.

To be fair, the survey poses the negative view of euthanasia and the participants disagree, which would suggest overcoming a bias in the survey. However there is another aspect of the wording which I think (possibly unintentionally) has an even strong effect in skewing the results.

Hall and colleagues designed a random telephone survey of 1,117 adults in the United States to measure attitudes about physician aid in dying. The results are reported in the current issue of the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Survey participants were asked to use a five-point scale to state their agreement or disagreement with this statement: "Assume for the purpose of this question that euthanasia were legal. If doctors were allowed to help patients die, you would trust your doctor less." The question did not distinguish between physician-assisted suicide, where the physician helps a patient take his or her own life, and euthanasia, where the physician directly administers the lethal dosage, because prior studies found that attitudes are essentially the same for both.

I think there is a big difference between saying, "trust a doctor less" and "trust your doctor less". And in the question itself there is no linkage that states whether one's personal doctor is performing euthanasia or PAS. So why would this survey be an endorsement of euthanasia? This would be more relevant if either it made clear whether one's own doctor participated in euthanasia, or asked if it affected one's confidence in doctors in general.

Public Policy seems to be a cross-disciplinary chair at Wake Forest. Mark Hall, as some of the versions of this article state, is a JD also affiliated with the School of Law and not a medical doctor (although many of the reports I've seen omit this). While his previous studies don't seem to indicate any heavy bias regarding euthanasia per se, I am concerned that he was the recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant and his specialty is managed care economic issues.

I want to stress that I don't think there is any malicious intent in the study itself, but I think it is flawed and the imprecise wording is already being used to promote the right-to-die agenda.
papijoe 8:02 AM |

Monday, December 05, 2005

China Admits to Organ Harvesting

From The Times via Wesley J Smith

China broke its silence yesterday to admit for the first time that the organs of executed prisoners were sold to foreigners for transplant.

For many years it has denied that such a trade existed. But Huang Jiefu, the Deputy Health Minister, acknowledged that the practice is widespread and promised to tighten the rules.

“We want to push for regulations on organ transplants to standardise the management of the supply of organs from executed prisoners and tidy up the medical market,” Mr Huang told Caijing magazine.

Apparently they have decided the global moral climate has sunk close enough to their level to skip the charade.
papijoe 1:42 PM |

Corporations that Support the Culture of Death

Gregg from Pundit Review sent me this link to the site of Life Decisions International. The organization has this laudable mission:

LDI's chief purpose is public education on the agenda of Planned Parenthood. This is done with the prayer that God will touch the hearts of those who learn the facts in such a way that they are motivated to help lead the world to positive social change, including a respect for all human life.

LDI conveniently lists the swarms of actors, musicians and corporations that support Planned Parenthood. The lists of entertainers had few surprises, but I was shocked at a partial list of companies that get my hard-earned money, who then in turn support Planned Parenthood.

Walt Disney, Pfizer, J. P. Morgan Chase (including Chase Manhattan Bank & Bank One), Johnson & Johnson, CIGNA, The New York Times (owns newspapers and television stations throughout the USA), Microsoft (Hotmail, etc.), Levi Strauss, Patagonia, and Whole Foods Market.

Oddly, the full list isn't on the site, you have to pay for it (!!!). I question whether this is the best way to further their stated goal, but I also noticed that Planned Parenthood's donor list isn't anywhere in plain sight on their own website.

So here's a question Johnson & Johnson's and Disney's shareholders and customers may want to ask. Since these company's customers are primarily parents and children,
isn't supporting a cause dedicated to reducing your target market unwise?
papijoe 7:50 AM |

Friday, December 02, 2005

More Trouble Yet for South Korean Cloning Doc

The media in that country has treated Dr. Woo-Suk Hwang like a rock star, but in addition to earlier reports of ethical violations, a South Korean TV station has hinted that his research itself may be tainted.

Researchers with South Korea's cloning pioneer Hwang Woo-Suk rejected reports suggesting that some of his landmark research may have been faked. A South Korean TV station confirmed it was working on a report that would challenge whether Hwang's work was genuine.

Last week MBC TV network reported that Hwang had used human eggs for his cloning experiments from members of his research team and that others eggs used in his research had been paid for.

Hwang had previously denied the allegations but admitted the truth two days after the program was aired.

Now, the channel's investigative reporting program, PD Notebook, is preparing to raise more serious allegations.

"As it has been widely reported, we are pursuing a new report focusing on the validity of Professor Hwang's study (on the cloned embryonic stem cells)," an MBC official working on the program told AFP.

Top executives of MBC, one of South Korea's three major TV networks, met with the program's staff to "review" the information collected by the team concerning the authenticity of Hwang's work, he said.

"They have reached a conclusion that we have to take a very cautious approach to a new report on Hwang. Nothing has been decided as to whether we have to go ahead with it or not," he said.

The report last week on the origin of human eggs used by Hwang sparked international controversy over the groundbreaking team's ethical standards.

It also triggered a groundswell of patriotic support for Hwang and anger at MBC for hurting Hwang and damaging the country's international image.

Hwang admitted to ethical breaches and disappeared from public view after offering to resign from all his official positions.

Hwang's team has said in its study published in May in the science periodical, Science, that it had produced patient-specific stem cells from cloned human embryos.

There has been a lot of public support for Dr. Hwang, and outcry against the media's exposure of his foibles in South Korea, so it sounds like the station may quash the report. It is by no means confirmed, but hopefully the investigation will continue. I wouldn't bet on the South Korean government getting involved however.

Wesley Smith posted on this and has some great commentary.
papijoe 7:07 AM |