Dr. Shinya Yamanaka invented a time machine.
In the simplest of terms, that’s how he and his colleagues sometimes describe their work. They take full-grown cells from humans and they regress them – they send them back in time, to their earliest, embryonic state – and then they coax them into the future, into totally new types of cells.
Last week, Yamanaka was awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his work creating induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells – cells that are genetically engineered into blank slates, allowing them to be transformed into any type of cell in the body.
His technique could allow scientists to explore human diseases like they never have before, or help doctors regenerate tissue lost to injury or illness. Using his technology, scientists can now take a skin cell and transform it into a heart cell that will actually beat in a lab dish.
“I was here, at Gladstone, the moment I learned we got human IPS cells,” said Yamanaka last month, in an interview from his part-time office at San Francisco’s Gladstone Institutes. Yamanaka did most of the IPS cell work at his main lab in Japan.
“My colleague sent me the image, and it was, wow,” Yamanaka said, offering a brief, modest smile. “We had beating human heart cells, made from IPS cells.”
The Nobel, no doubt, validates the years of work by both Yamanaka and the British scientist he shared it with, Dr. John Gurdon. But in scientific circles around the world, his research hardly needed the validation. Yamanaka’s IPS cells, developed just six years ago, have the potential to revolutionize medical research, his peers say.
Labs that never were able to access stem cells before can now make them, and the cells themselves could be used to treat patients someday. They are already helping scientists study complex human diseases like Alzheimer’s and autism.
“Everything was turned upside down with Shinya Yamanaka’s work,” said Dr. Arnold Kriegstein, director of stem cell research at UCSF. “It really has transformed the field. It made it possible for laboratories all over the world, with very little investment, to start making stem cells.”
Stem cells are the body’s means of growing and regenerating all of the cells that make up muscles and organs and bones and blood – everything that forms our physical body. Everyone carries a supply of so-called adult stem cells that constantly replenish cells we need to survive.
But certain critical cells, including some in the brain and heart, can’t be replaced once they’re dead or damaged. The only way to grow those cells is from embryonic stem cells, which are only found in the earliest stages of human development.
Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, which literally translates into “many potentials,” referring to their ability to become any one of hundreds of cell types in the body. Yamanaka’s cells are “induced” into their pluripotent state, thus the name he gave them.
It’s that pluripotent ability that makes both embryonic and IPS cells potentially very important for medicine. When scientists first found human embryonic stem cells about 15 years ago, they hoped to one day be able to harness them and manufacture them in large quantities, providing an endless supply of regenerative tissue for damaged bodies.
But embryonic stem cells are controversial, and not efficient for mass production. Because they must be harvested from human embryos, which are usually donated by couples undergoing in vitro fertilization or by abortion clinics, many people have severe ethical reservations about using the stem cells. Additionally, there will always be a limited supply of embryos.
IPS cells will overcome both of those drawbacks if they prove to be identical, or nearly so, to embryonic stem cells. There’s no ethical debate around their creation, since they can be made from any cell in the body – even a skin cell scraped from someone’s arm or leg. And the supply is limitless.
Read all of this HERE.
Ah, the good old days of my youth and the hula hoop!
Yep, you read that headline correctly. WomensHealth.gov is a “Project of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health.” This federal site has a page with a pretty long title: “Pregnancy > Before you get pregnant: Information for all women > If you are sexually active.”
And, near the bottom of the page, there’s a section called “Connect with other organizations.” Most of the organizations are generally well-recognized medical groups – like the American Academy of Family Physicians. But two non-profits make the list as well: March of Dimes and Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood is also listed as an organization to “connect with” on the “Knowing if you are pregnant” and “Unplanned pregnancy” pages. Of course, this should come as no surprise, since Kathleen Sebelius, Planned Parenthood supporter extreme, is the secretary of Health and Human Services.
Lest anyone question why I state that the federal government “refers” women to Planned Parenthood, let’s cover the definition of “refer.” Refer is defined as “to direct to a source for help or information.” By telling women that Planned Parenthood is an organization to connect with, the federal government is clearly directing women to the abortion giant for help.
Last Friday, House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and colleagues sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas Shulman accusing Treasury of “either willfully misleading the Committee or…purposefully withholding information that is essential to the Committee’s oversight effort.”
As Jonathan Adler and I document in our forthcoming Health Matrix article, “Taxation Without Representation: The Illegal IRS Rule to Expand Tax Credits Under the PPACA,” the IRS has announced it will impose ObamaCare’s taxes on employers and individuals whom Congress expressly exempted from those taxes, and will send potentially hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to private health insurance companies, also contrary to the plain language of the statute. Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt has filed a legal challenge to the IRS rule that imposes those illegal taxes.
On August 20, the committee sent IRS commissioner Shulman a letter requesting “all legal analysis, internal or external, conducted by the IRS which authorizes IRS to grant premium-assistance tax credits in federal Exchanges,” and “all documents and communications between IRS employees and employees of the White House Executive Office of the President or any other federal agency or department referring or relating to the proposed IRS rule or final IRS rule.”
When Treasury responded for the IRS on October 12, according to committee member Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), it “failed to include a single document, memorandum, communication, or email created before the publication of the proposed rule on August 17, 2011?—i.e., when all the interesting discussions would have occurred. The committee’s second letter complains, “Treasury did not provide a single piece of evidence to support its claim that IRS complied with the standard process when issuing this rule.”
Thus, the committee threatened, “If you do not provide all of the requested information by Thursday, October 25, 2012, the Committee will consider the use of compulsory process.” Developing…
A couple of weeks back I read Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan, by Doug Stanton. I had picked it up because I still remember the obvious relish in Don Rumsfeld’s press conference over the photos of the US Special Forces participating in an 18th century style cavalry charge in the early days of the war in Afghanistan. The Secretary of Defense also noted that they had to make a special trip to the store to meet the requested next supply drop, which included saddlery and horse feed. Indeed, stories on the successful combination of the “fourth world” military forces of the Northern Alliance with the 21st century satellite communication, GPS and smart bombs of the modern US military replaced a string of tedious speculation in the press about the impossibility of operating in such hostile terrain during the “brutal Afghan winter.”
What makes President Obama’s big gotcha line about horses and bayonets in last night’s debate even sillier to those of us who follow military operations was that Afghan Horse Soldiers were back in the news this week. The President may not always have time in his schedule for security briefings but surely he must be aware of what is in the Huffington Post. From October 22, 2012.
A sculpture depicting a US soldier riding horseback during the invasion of Afghanistan was unveiled near its new home on Friday near One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.
The 16-foot-tall bronze statue, titled “De Opresso Liber,” depicts a Special Operations soldier in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, and commemorates the first time US troops used horses in combat since 1942.
De Opresso Liber, “To Liberate the Oppressed” is the motto of the Special Forces.
As for those hopelessly obsolete bayonets, it turns out they also still have their place in military operations. The Marines still use them to instill discipline and aggressiveness in basic training and they remain standard issue upon deployment. Nor has the order Fix Bayonets been confined strictly to basic training in recent wars, as this June 21, 2009 article from the Washington Post details.
Not long after giving that order, 1st Lt. Arthur Karell was hunched in a dirt trench crowded with Marines. The hushed darkness bristled with eight-inch blades fitted beneath the barrels of dozens of M-16 assault rifles.
You fix bayonets when you expect to need the aggressive combat mind-set that’s produced by the primal sight of massed blades. You fix them when you expect to search hidden places. You fix them when you expect the fight could push you within arm’s reach of your enemy — gutting distance.
That distance is not uncommon in counter insurgency operations inside villages, towns and cities.
Oh, by the way, Mr. President, one more thing. No matter no big it may be a submarine always remains a boat. To call one a ship is akin to referring to a Marine as a solider. A Commander in Chief should know those things.
It was a little much when President Barack Obama said that he was “offended” by the suggestion that his administration would try to deceive the public about what happened in Benghazi. What has this man not deceived the public about?
Remember his pledge to cut the deficit in half in his first term in office? This was followed by the first trillion dollar deficit ever, under any President of the United States — followed by trillion dollar deficits in every year of the Obama administration.
Remember his pledge to have a “transparent” government that would post its legislative proposals on the Internet several days before Congress was to vote on them, so that everybody would know what was happening? This was followed by an ObamaCare bill so huge and passed so fast that even members of Congress did not have time to read it.
Remember his claims that previous administrations had arrogantly interfered in the internal affairs of other nations — and then his demands that Israel stop building settlements and give away land outside its 1967 borders, as a precondition to peace talks with the Palestinians, on whom there were no preconditions?
As for what happened in Libya, the Obama administration says that there is an “investigation” under way. An “on-going investigation” sounds so much better than “stonewalling” to get past election day. But you can bet the rent money that this “investigation” will not be completed before election day. And whatever the investigation says after the election will be irrelevant.
The events unfolding in Benghazi on the tragic night of September 11th were being relayed to the State Department as the attacks were going on, “in real time,” as they say. So the idea that the Obama administration now has to carry out a time-consuming “investigation” to find out what those events were, when the information was immediately available at the time, is a little much.
The full story of what happened in Libya, down to the last detail, may never be known. But, as someone once said, you don’t need to eat a whole egg to know that it is rotten. And you don’t need to know every detail of the events before, during and after the attacks to know that the story put out by the Obama administration was a fraud.
The administration’s initial story that what happened in Benghazi began as a protest against an anti-Islamic video in America was a very convenient theory. The most obvious alternative explanation would have been devastating to Barack Obama’s much heralded attempts to mollify and pacify Islamic nations in the Middle East.
To have helped overthrow pro-Western governments in Egypt and Libya, only to bring anti-Western Islamic extremists to power would have been revealed as a foreign policy disaster of the first magnitude. To have been celebrating President Obama’s supposedly heroic role in the killing of Osama bin Laden, with the implication that Al Qaeda was crippled, would have been revealed as a farce.
Osama bin Laden was by no means the first man to plan a surprise attack on America and later be killed. Japan’s Admiral Yamamoto planned the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II, and he was later tracked down and shot down in a plane that was carrying him.
Nobody tried to depict President Franklin D. Roosevelt as some kind of hero for having simply authorized the killing of Yamamoto. In that case, the only hero who was publicized was the man who shot down the plane that Yamamoto was in.
Yet the killing of Osama bin Laden has been depicted as some kind of act of courage by President Obama. After bin Laden was located, why would any President not give the go-ahead to get him?
That took no courage at all. It would have been far more dangerous politically for Obama not to have given the go-ahead. Moreover, Obama hedged his bets by authorizing the admiral in charge of the operation to proceed only under various conditions.
This meant that success would be credited to Obama and failure could be blamed on the admiral — who would join George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton and other scapegoats for Obama’s failures.
More Patriot Post here.
Despite their feigned interest in tolerance, college campuses are among the most punitive and stifling environments in the country. Students are routinely punished for “offenses” ranging from penning mild satire to holding the wrong opinions on important social and political issues. One book, Unlearning Liberty, by Greg Lukianoff, documents these abuses better than any other that has been written since I joined the campus culture wars over a decade ago. Greg is able to document these things well and for a simple reason: he has been the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for the last seven years.
The stories Greg tells in his new book are so disturbing it will be difficult for some to believe that they are all real and all come from American universities. Unlearning Liberty at times sounds like an account from some far away land that never valued the kinds of freedoms our constitution guarantees. For example,
* A student is punished for racial insensitivity for publicly reading a book that condemns the KKK.
* Students are required to lobby before legislatures for political bills they disagree with in order to graduate from a public university.
* A student Senate passes a Sedition Act to punish other students for criticizing them at, of all places, a public university governed by the First Amendment and funded by their tuition dollars.
However strange these stories seem, they deserve our undivided attention. The reason is simple: when these students graduate, their anti-liberty mindset is unleashed on the larger society.
Indeed, after a generation of unlearning liberty, these things will begin to seem normal if not addressed soon. FIRE co-founder Alan Charles Kors said it best when he stated that “A nation that does not educate in liberty will not long preserve it and will not even know when it is lost.”
For over a decade, I have been trying to explain that the campus free speech war transcends politics and religion. It is a threat to everyone. That is why I am glad that a book echoing my arguments – but in far greater depth and with much greater eloquence – was written by someone who disagrees with me on a broad range of issues. Greg Lukianoff is an atheist, a Democrat, a supporter of same-sex marriage, and a supporter of abortion rights. We have worked together for years as allies in the free speech wars because we both recognize that liberty is a sacred process, not a pre-ordained result.
We also understand that true commitment to liberty is measured by the conduct of our institutions of higher learning, and not by their statements about their conduct. For example, Harvard University claims that “Curtailment of free speech undercuts the intellectual freedom that defines (Harvard’s) purpose.” In reality, it fires even presidents who refuse to bow down to the gods of political correctness and gender sensitivity.
Harvard and other private universities claim to be free from the technical requirement that they conform to the dictates of the First Amendment. That much is true. But they are not free from the moral requirement that they must always be honest about the true state of the marketplace of ideas in their classrooms and across their campuses.
Truth be known, Harvard has a long record of suppressing free speech among students, faculty, and, more recently, non conforming administrators. Given that reality, they should refrain from telling prospective students that, “The free exchange of ideas is vital for our primary function of discovering and disseminating ideas.”
To the extent that administrators make these patently false claims, they fraudulently induce students into taking on debt, often in the realm of six digits. All this, in order to join a marketplace of ideas that barely exists in an age of administratively mandated and supervised political correctness.
The best and most accurate measure of the depth of our constitutional crisis in higher education can be seen in the campus speech codes of our public university campuses. These codes are a measure of not just the censoriousness of our public administrators but also their audacity. The fact that they knowingly enforce them – even with no prospect of winning in court shows us two things:
1. They know that even when they lose in individual cases, the presence of the often multiply-layered speech codes will help maintain orthodoxy by chilling speech that is not politically correct.
2. Due to qualified immunity, they will never have to pay personal damages and the general public – the same people they seek to censor – will have to foot the bill for the litigation.
The problem is not just at Harvard and Yale. It is at other universities – even ones located in conservative areas of the nation. For example, Texas A&M has a speech code that prohibits violating the “right” to “respect for personal feelings” and protects “freedom from indignity of any type.”
Of course, many of the smaller liberal arts colleges are even worse. Davidson College bans “inquiries about dating.” So you can’t ask someone on a date at Davidson without violating the speech code. Even if you could, you would not be able to ask your date to go see Guys and Dolls. Use of the word “doll” is considered sexual harassment.
On the day of the second presidential debate, I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion at debate-host Hofstra University. The topic was “defusing the student loan debt bomb,” and I was the lone voice calling for an end to inflation-fueling federal student aid. My co-panelists were Tamara Draut of the think tank Demos, Above the Law blog co-editor Elie Mystal, and U.S. PIRG’s Ed Mierzwinski.
I had perhaps the best interaction with Mystal, with whom I had interesting chats throughout the day. Mystal’s response to my proposal was basically that poor and minority students need help, and phasing out federal aid would disproportionately hurt them. It was an argument with which I could sympathize, and it made more sense than just proclaiming “college education is a public good and should basically be free.” Unfortunately, writing on his blog post-debate, Mystal said that my “view makes a certain kind of sense” but nonetheless smacks of “the classic, Republican ‘f**k ‘em’ approach that disproportionately screws the poor and minorities.”
Um, ouch. Ascribing callousness or cruelty to either me or Republicans because we don’t like the negative effects of aid is, frankly, precisely why we can’t have a reasoned debate about these things. Maybe I’m an exceptionally gifted multi-tasker, or maybe I’ve just contemplated some important logic and facts, but I can be against mega-inflation without being indifferent to the poor. Indeed, quite the opposite.
First, much aid goes to people with little regard to their income. Pell Grants might be pretty well targeted — though they’re getting less so by the minute – but “unsubsidized” federal loans, which are backed by taxpayers, are available irrespective of need. Tax-based aid also skews high-income. The American Opportunity Tax Credit, for instance, can be claimed by joint filers making up to $180,000. And the well-to-do are best positioned to maximize their aid because they can afford financial planners to tell them how to hide wealth, or temporarily reduce income to optimize their eligibility. The cumulative effect of all this is to push up college prices.
Then there’s the psychological effect of hugely inflated sticker prices. If the message “college is astonishingly expensive” is repeated often enough, who do you think will more often be deterred from attending college, the rich or the poor? Probably the latter.
Next, the poor and minorities are no doubt disproportionately burdened by debt. Data indicate that’s definitely the case for African-Americans, and is likely the case for the poor considering that even debt loads that are small compared to some totals might be huge relative to a poor student’s wealth.
Finally, while people of all income levels and races spend too much time and treasure on higher education, the poor and minorities are probably the most snookered by “college for all.” The unfortunate reality is that those groups tend to be the least prepared to do college-level work or pay mammoth, inflated bills, and as a result tend to most readily pursue degrees without completing them. Among first-time, full-time students entering college in 2004, a weak 58.3 percent that didn’t transfer schools completed a four-year program within six years. Much worse, only 39.5 percent of African-Americans completed their degrees, and 50.1 percent of Hispanics. In large part this is the fault of factors preceding higher education — including our moribund K-12 system — but the dismal college completion reality remains.
In light of all this, is it really fair to proclaim that those who want to phase out inflationary, consumption-driving aid don’t care about the poor and minorities? Or is it long past time to give them a full and fair hearing?
Cross-posted from SeeThruEdu.com