The Daily Show Video: Suppressing the Vote

My laptop has crashed, so I’m uploading this post from my phone. I wish I could write more about this hilarious and disturbing video, but pecking on my phone takes too darn long.

This Daily Show segment was filmed in my town of Asheville. Don Yelton is a local GOP activist who has had to resign his post as precinct chairman as a consequence of his interview with Aasif Mandvi. Yelton has been in hot water previously for similar incendiary actions. In local interviews he stated that he has no regrets and stands by his comments, though he maintains that creative editing took his words out of context. OK…

Children of the Corn! My response to Pseudoscience and the War Against Stem Cell Research

Put some butter on that baby!

FROM: Biotech’s Dark Promise: Involuntary Cannibalism for All.

It’s the latest way to fight stem cell research and repackage the anti-abortion crusade. Since stem-cell research has gained support over the last decade or so, the anti-science crowd has joined forces with the anti-choicers to rename and repackage the debate. Biotechnology is Cannibalism! I hope you read the article to absorb the full frontal assault on reason. See if you can emerge unscathed with your logic intact. It’s hard.

There is no way that using diploid cells derived from voluntary, medical abortions from the 60’s is in any way cannibalism. I respect other  opinions, but sometimes opinions are not fully informed. It seems that the far left and the far right and the anti-science folks are finding a lot of common ground. I’m all for labeling and informed consent, but I call BS on this article. I don’t know everything, but I do have a bit of educational background in science-biotechnology, specifically. I have cultured cells, inserted genes into them, isolated proteins and purified them from genetic material. It can be done and it’s not all mad-sciency! This article takes scientific technology and mashes it up into a big, fat pile of ignorance and calls it cannibalism. Just a couple of examples:

“Known as diploid cell vaccines (diploid cells have two (di-) sets of chromosomes inherited from human mother and father), they are non-continuous (like cancer cells), and therefore must be continually replaced, i.e. new aborted, live fetal tissue must be harvested periodically.”

Absolutely, unequivocally, untrue. Continuous lines have been maintained from attenuated stem cells for decades. If people don’t like that, fine, but it needs not be embellished to sound like there are hundreds of fetuses being harvested for stem cells. The writer references ” injecting living, aborted fetal cells or their biological derivatives into their bodies, or their children’s…” Again, completely false. That is not how vaccines are produced. All genetic material is purified from the vaccine. Vaccines need to be incubated in live cells, be it bacterial, plant, insect, mammalian, or human. That is the way it works. From all I’ve heard from anti-vaccine people, none of these cell alternatives are acceptable. If it’s human, it’s cannibalism; if it’s insect, you’re going to turn into the human fly; if it’s plant, you’re going to sprout a vine out off your butthole. So, back to polio and smallpox days, because crippling disease and early death were the good old days, before doctors and scientists started improving life expectancy with their little shop of horrors. Now we’ve got to worry about old age killing us. They’re even screwing around with that, trying to cure Alzheimers and stuff.

The article also warns against the dark menace of human cloning, referencing the legalization of “therapeutic”  human clones in the UK. This conjures visions of pod-people grown in incubation chambers and harvested for their useful organs. But no, everyone agrees that such a thing is morally repugnant. Unlike reproductive human cloning, the goal of which is to produce a baby, therapeutic cloning involves taking a human egg cell (discarded from fertility clinics), removing its nucleus, then inserting the nucleus of another type of cell into it, such as a skin cell. The cell is then artificially stimulated to divide and replicate. The difference being that this cell was never fertilized by sperm, a.k.a., what is needed to make a baby. Instead of a bouncing baby boy or girl, it will grow a sheet of skin for a burn victim, say, or spinal cord cells for a quadriplegic. Even using an egg, billions of which are flushed naturally from human female wombs every single month, is unacceptable. This, folks, is what they call cannibalism, like  the way the writer took actual scientific advancements to save human lives and cannibalized it into a really bad horror movie plot.

At the end of this farce of a news article, there is a listing of a “small sample of biopharmed organisms in development that could at some point in the future result in the inadvertent ingestion of human proteins (technically, cannibalism).” Um, technically, no…it is not cannibalism to ingest human proteins. Here is where I giggle uncontrollably and refrain from making a rude joke. Feel free to use your imagination.

Don’t mistake my ridicule of this article to mean that I don’t have real concerns about unchecked, untested use of genetically modified organisms in the environment or on humans. But articles such as this does a disservice to those who would argue for caution when it comes to new advances in genetic technology. It also feeds the rabid anti-choicers who would strip away a woman’s right to autonomy over her own body. Hyperbole and pseudoscience is nothing but a hindrance to rational discussion about the legal, moral, and ethical ramifications of a relatively new scientific frontier.

Reisinger first register of deeds in South to accept same-sex marriage licenses | Mountain Xpress | Asheville, NC

This morning, Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger became the first in the South to accept same-sex marriage licenses, as 10 couples requested them as part of an effort organized by the Campaign for Southern Equality.

About 80 people turned out for the event, holding “We Do” signs. This is not the first time the group has come to Reisinger’s office requesting marriage licenses: the first couple, Brenda Clark and Carol McCrory, had unsuccessfully tried to register for a marriage license four times before as part of CSE protests. Since 2011, the Asheville-based LGBT rights organization has organized a series of protests across the Southeast, seeking the overturn of all bans on same-sex marriage.

This time, however, instead of regretfully refusing the application Reisinger’s on record supporting same-sex marriage rights as he had during previous protests, he accepted the documents, just asking them to verify that the information on the form was correct.

However, he stopped short of signing and issuing the marriage licenses, saying that while he believes the state ban on same-sex marriage is in conflict with the U.S. Constitution, he will formally request that Attorney General Roy Cooper allow the marriages to proceed.

“It seems that y’all qualify for every reason under the law except your sexual orientation,” Reisinger said. “I took an oath to uphold North Carolina’s constitution, I also took an oath to uphold the United States Constitution, which demands equal rights for all people. My hope is that he [Cooper] will allow me permission to grant you this license. For now we’ll hold onto this license until we can get the attorney general’s approval.”

CONTINUE READING via Reisinger first register of deeds in South to accept same-sex marriage licenses | Mountain Xpress | Asheville, NC.

I’ve been reporting and ranting for some time about politics in my state, but once again I find myself proud to live in the most liberal town in North Carolina, and arguably the whole south. The right to marry is not a question of morality or religion, but a matter of equality. 

In other specifically local news, the Daily Show will shine a spotlight on Asheville in an upcoming show this month in a segment on NC’s  latest voter restrictions law. I can only imagine what weirdness they found here. The other day, my family and I went downtown to meet friends. We found ourselves in the middle of a gay pride festival, with drag queens and leather-bound individuals strolling about. We sat outdoors at a local tavern and listened to the music and people-watched. The fact that my kids were bored says a lot about the fact that weird is normal in  my town. I just love it.

Recently NC made national headlines (again) as the first and only state to deny WIC benefits to economically disadvantaged mothers and children who showed up for vouchers to buy nutritious food and formula. DHHS cited insufficient funds to cover the vouchers because of the federal government shutdown, although the USDA had emergency funds available for all states to cover shortfalls. After a couple of days of media onslaught, the state “found” the money to resume operations. I sense more to the story…