Daily Archives: January 20, 2009

Stem Cell Debate – Pro current policy

An excerpt of a letter signed by Cardinal Francis George, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, sums the arguments:

The embryonic stem cell policy initiated by President Bush has at times been criticized from both ends of the pro-life debate, but some criticisms are based on false premises. The policy did not ban embryonic stem cell research, or funding of such research. By restricting federally funded research to cell lines in existence at the time he issued his policy, he was trying to ensure that Americans are not forced to use their tax dollars to encourage expanded destruction of embryonic human beings for their stem cells. Such destruction is especially pointless at the present time, for several reasons.

  • First, basic research in the capabilities of embryonic stem cells can be and is being pursued using the currently eligible cell lines as well as the hundreds of lines produced with nonfederal funds since 2001.
  • Second, recent startling advances in reprogramming adult cells into embryonic-like stem cells – hailed by the journal Science as the scientific breakthrough of the year – are said by many scientists to be making embryonic stem cells irrelevant to medical progress.
  • Third, adult and cord blood stem cells are now known to have great versatility, and are increasingly being used to reverse serious illnesses and even help rebuild damaged organs. To divert scarce funds away from these promising avenues for research and treatment toward the avenue that is most morally controversial as well as most medically speculative would be a sad victory of politics over science.

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Security Breaches — Whither policy can reduce?

This post by the Post needs unpacking…

A data breach last year at Princeton, N.J., payment processor Heartland Payment Systems may have led to the theft of more than 100 million credit and debit card accounts, the company said today.

The Heartland disclosure follows a year of similar breach disclosures at several major U.S. cards processors. On December 23, RBS Worldpay, a subsidiary of Citizens Financial Group Inc., said a breach of its payment systems may have affected more than 1.5 million people.

In March 2008, Hannaford Brothers Co. disclosed that a breach of its payment systems — also aided by malicious software — compromised at least 4.2 million credit and debit card accounts.

In early 2007, TJX Companies Inc., the parent of retailers Marshalls and TJ Maxx said a number of breaches over a three-year period exposed more than 45 million credit and debit card numbers.

In 2005, a breach at payment card processor CardSystems Solutions jeopardized roughly 40 million credit and debit card accounts.

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Stem Cell Policy – Economic boom for some states

California’s Imperial Valley sees the potential new rule from the Obama administration as an economic plus to support California’s $3 billion, voter approved, investment in stem cell research.

However, any new rule would not result in creation of additional stem lines for research.  That activity is banned by law :

The Dickey-Wicker amendment, first passed in 1995, prohibits the use of federal funds for the creation of human embryos for research purposes or the destruction or injury of human embryos.

But, the new rules could provide the ethical guidelines missing from current policy:

“The current Bush policy harms U.S. interests not just because it severely restricts the use of federal funds for a potentially life-saving new branch of medical science,” he wrote. “It also hurts the nation because, to the extent it allows such research to go forward, it demands almost nothing in the way of ethical constraints.” In other words, Bush’s attempt to claim the moral high ground on a contentious issue stranded the very research he was trying to regulate in murky ethical waters.

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