November 1, 2012

Signs of the Times

Using IVF/Surrogacy to Create Anchor Babies  Wesley J. Smith

What a scam. IVF clinics connecting Chinese couples with American surrogate mothers to create new U.S. citizens.

Move to grant personhood rights to great apes, cetaceans, and elephants  while denying personhood rights  to developing humans.

"Plant rights" on NPR

The environmental movement is growing increasingly radical and anti human.  Taking a beat from the animal rights movement, we have seen increasing advocacy for human-stifling agendas such as “nature rights” (now the law of two countries and nearly 30 U.S. municipalities) ”plant dignity” (in Switzerland’s constitution), “river personhood” (recently enacted in New Zealand) and “ecocide,” which would make any and all large scale human uses of the land and exploitation of resources a “crime against peace” akin to genocide and ethnic cleansing. These are not promoted in odd Internet sites, but rather are discussed earnestly and with great respect in such liberal outlets such as the New York Times. Latest example, on NPR:
---
I have been pounding the drum that plant rights, nature rights, etc. are inimical to our thriving and liberty because they undermine human exceptionalism and treat rights as something that are ubiquitous and common.  I mean, if everything has rights, really nothing does.

Lesbian TV producer loses custody of her biological daughter in legal first after judge rules ex-lover is 'more responsible parent'

Brook Altman and Allison Scollar had a child six years ago after a friend donated sperm.  When couple split, there was a bitter battle over who should have custody.  Altman fled with daughter to California and accused Scollar of child abuse.  Judge ruled Scollar was more responsible and had child's best interests at heart.

Man sues wife over ugly baby and wins, then a DNA test proved the baby was his and his wife confessed to $100,000 worth of plastic surgery in Korea before they met.

"I married my wife out of love, but as soon as we had our first daughter, we began having marital issues," he told the Irish Times. "Our daughter was incredibly ugly, to the point where it horrified me."

Progressive experts: Please, don’t bother us with the facts

“Experts” say gays can’t change, and they do so despite the actual evidence of men who claim to have changed (or maybe just subordinated their homosexual desires).  There it is, in one paragraph:  Thousands of men assert that they have changed — and experts claim that they’re lying because their claims run counter to theory.
Ex-Gay’ Men Fight Back Against View That Homosexuality Can’t Be Changed
in California, their sense of siege grew more intense in September when Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law banning use of widely discredited sexual “conversion therapies” for minors — an assault on their own validity, some ex-gay men feel….But many ex-gays have continued to seek help from such therapists and men’s retreats, saying their own experience is proof enough that the treatment can work.

Scientists Turn Stem Cells into Sex Cells

This week, researchers working with mice reported in the journal Nature that they had successfully used stem cells to create oocytes (egg cells) for the first time. A similar approach could presumably be developed eventually for human oocytes.
--
Employing adult stem cells to treat infertility and avoid the use of donated eggs could actually be a way to restore the integrity of the family and of human reproduction. Ensuring that technologies like this are used in ways that serve the human good rather than demean human dignity is a central task of bioethics, a task that calls for not just a clear understanding of the science but also public deliberation and, if necessary, regulation.


'Three people, one baby' public consultation begins 
after UK scientists created "designer embryos" containing DNA from a man and two women

California Multiple Parents Bill: Proposed Legislation Would Allow Children To Have Three Or More Parents

The measure doesn't expand the current definition of what qualities as a "parent." It simply allows for that definition to apply to three or more people--something that could easily become an issue in cases of surrogate parents or if a non-blood relative voluntarily signs a legal statement of parenthood.

Making babies to make ends meet

I’ve given birth to three girls. I cannot imagine carrying a child for a stranger. When people say, “That’s so much money!” I say, “This is not a job where you take a break, lie down and rest, go on vacation for a week. She’s pregnant 24-7. Oh, and there’s the part where she could die.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:52 PM | Permalink

Superstorm Sandy

I have been at a loss of words as I try to process the enormous amount of destruction that Hurricane Sandy wrought.  I've found that the Daily Mail has been the best for coverage and photos though I am laid low by some of the stories.  It is impossible to imagine the devastation brought to so many lives.

Mother whose two boys were swept out of her arms in superstore was left screaming on street for 12 hours by neighbors who refused to help her

Police find bodies of Glenda Moore's sons Connor, 4, and Brandon, 2.

'Even momma got outta house to loot new shirt': Looters brag on Twitter

The tragic faces of Sandy's young victims.

• Off-duty NYPD officer Artur Kasprzak drowned saving seven family members, including 15-month-old son .
• Two friends in Brooklyn, Jessie Streich-Kest, 24, and Jacob Vogelman, 23, struck by tree while walking their dog - but bodies were not discovered until next day.
• Two-year-old and four-year-old feared dead after mother's SUV flipped, while at least three children killed by falling trees.
• Elderly residents also succumbed to storm's strength including Herminia St John, 75, who died when her respirator stopped during power cut.
• Lauren Abraham, 23, was electrocuted by a downed power cable having gone out to take photographs.
• Tony Laino, 29, was killed in his bed when a tree crashed through his house.
• Richard Everett, 54, and his wife Elizabeth killed in their car by falling tree in Mendham, New Jersey as their children looked on.

On Staten Island, Where is the Red Cross?

Whenever there’s a drive in Staten Island, we give openly and honestly. Where are they? Where are they? I was at the South Shore yesterday, people were buried in their homes. There the dogs are trying to find bodies. The people there, the neighbors who had no electricity, were making soup. Making soup. It’s very emotional because the lack of a response. The lack of a response. They’re supposed to be here….They should be on the front lines fighting, and helping the people.”
----
We’re talking about getting water of the tunnel. Let’s get the water out of the tunnel tomorrow, let’s get the people out of the water today. There’ve been thousands of people who have been displaced. There are people who are cold, who are hungry, who are without a place to go, and looking for warmth. There are people still trapped. Yet we’re talking about marathons and tunnels. I walked on the rooftop of a house yesterday, I stepped on it because the debris that surrounded it was level with the rooftop. That’s what happened here on Staten Island.”

I leave it to Walter Russell Mead in Nature and Nature's God

While the lights went out across Manhattan tonight, and the city that calls itself the capital of the world was cut off from the mainland as flood waters thundered through its streets, many people around the world watched the spectacle and were reminded just how fragile the busy world we humans build around us really is.
--
Into this busy, self involved world Hurricane Sandy has burst. Sharks have been photographed (or at least photo shopped) swimming in the streets of New Jersey towns; waves sweep across the Lower East Side; transformers explode on both sides of the Hudson as salt water surges into the tunnels and subways. For a little while at least, New Yorkers are reminded that we live in a world shaped by forces that are bigger than we are…
--
The strongest walls, the sturdiest retirement plans stuffed with stocks and CDs, the best doctors cannot protect us from that final encounter with the force that made and will someday unmake us.  Coming to terms with that reality is the most important thing that any of us can do. A storm like this one is an opportunity to do exactly that. It reminds us that what we like to call ‘normal life’ is fragile and must someday break apart. If we are wise, we will take advantage of this smaller, passing storm to think seriously about the greater storm that is coming for us all.
--
That is something we all need to do. It involves a recognition of our helplessness and insufficiency before the mysteries and limits of life. Like the First Step in the Twelve Step programs, it begins with an acknowledgment of failure and defeat. We each try to build a self-sufficient world, a sturdy little life that is proof against storms and disasters — but none of us can really get that done.  Strangely, that admission of weakness opens the door to a new kind of strength. To acknowledge and accept weakness is to ground our lives more firmly in truth, and it turns out that to be grounded in reality is to become more able and more alive. Denial is hard work; those who try to stifle their awareness of the limits of human life and ambition in the busy rounds of daily life never reach their full potential.
--
To open your eyes to the fragility of life and to our dependence on that which is infinitely greater than ourselves is to enter more deeply into life. To come to terms with the radical insecurity in which we all live is to find a different and more reliable kind of security. The joys and occupations of ordinary life aren’t all there is to existence, but neither are the great and all-destroying storms. There is a calm beyond the storm, and the same force that sends these storms into our lives offers a peace and security that no storm can destroy. As another one of the psalms puts it, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Accepting your limits and your dependence on things you can’t control is the first step on the road toward finding that joy.

Mead again on the Perils of Nanny State Governance

The New York Times notes that scientists and flood experts have been warning about the risks of flooding in New York for years and have suggested everything from levees to floodgates in New York Harbor to minimize potential damage. Yet neither the city nor the state government has taken serious steps to act on these suggestions:
--
The problem with nanny state governance isn’t just that it’s intrusive. It isn’t just that it stifles business with over-regulation, and it isn’t just that it empowers busybodies and costs money. It’s that it distracts government from the really big jobs that it ought to be doing.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:26 PM | Permalink