Morality

  US May Lift Ban On Federal Funding For Stem-Cell ResearchAugust 26, 2006 09:24 THE breakthrough made in a small Massachusetts laboratory could put American embryonic stem-cell research back on track by removing the key objection that has stood in the way of federal funding.
American scientists have been unable to use government money to create new stem-cell lines since 2001, when President Bush ordered a ban on federal funding for research on embryos created after that date.



All their publicly funded work has been confined to the 61 stem cells already in existence at that time when, as Mr Bush said, a “life-or-death decision had already been made”.

Last month, Mr Bush vetoed a Bill lifting that ban on the ground that he opposed the use of public funds for projects involving the destruction of human embryos.
  Senator's Racial Slur Could Hand Virginia To The DemocratsAugust 25, 2006 15:34 George Allen, the ambitious Republican junior senator for Virginia, is losing ground to his opponent in a key race that could help determine whether Democrats can seize control of the Senate in November's congressional elections.

The latest Rasmussen poll shows Mr Allen's lead over the Democrat Jim Webb has shrunk from 11 points a month ago to only five points; 47 per cent favoured Mr Allen with 42 per cent now preferring Mr Webb, a former marine and Reagan-era secretary of the navy, who is one of dozens of veterans seeking national office for the first time.
  Sex Assault Rife At U.S. Military SchoolAugust 24, 2006 09:12 Almost one in five women and one in 25 men attending The Citadel military college have been sexually assaulted since enrolling, a survey published on Wednesday found.

The survey, which was commissioned by the state-funded school, also found that 68 percent of female cadets and 17 percent of male cadets reported sexual harassment while attending The Citadel.

The incidence of sexual assault and harassment at the Citadel was higher than at any of three federally funded armed services academies -- West Point, the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy, where surveys on sexual behavior were done in 2004, the Charleston Post and Courier newspaper said.

The alleged sexual assaults included unwanted touching, stroking, fondling of private parts and kissing. Male and female cadets also reported unwanted sexual intercourse, oral sex, anal sex or sexual penetration with an object.
  Plan B Contraceptive Gains U.S. Approval After Years of DebateAugust 24, 2006 09:11 U.S. regulators approved sales of Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s ``morning after'' emergency contraceptive pill without a prescription, capping a policy debate that has dogged the Bush Administration for three years.

The Food and Drug Administration today said Barr could begin selling the drug, called Plan B, over the counter to those 18 and older. Plan B is designed to prevent pregnancy when taken within 72 hours of sex.

The decision capped a prolonged fight over whether the pill should be available without a doctor's permission, and which age group should get access. Some doctors' groups and Barr called for over-the-counter sales without an age limit. Some social conservatives said easy availability could increase promiscuity among teenagers.
  Experts: Sex Slaves Are Girls Next DoorAugust 23, 2006 14:31 Raids conducted last week on 20 Northeast brothels uncovered more than 70 suspected sex slaves, exposing a long-ignored national problem found in towns large and small, with immigrants and U.S. citizens alike as victims, experts say.

"It's a very overwhelming subject for a lot of people to recognize that there is slavery at this time in our country," said Carole Angel, staff attorney with the Immigrant Women Program of the women's rights advocacy group Legal Momentum in Washington. "It's hard for us as humans to contemplate what this means."

Jolene Smith, executive director of Free The Slaves, a Washington-based organization dedicated to ending slavery worldwide, agreed that the idea of 21st century slavery was foreign to most people.

"Americans are conditioned to believe that slavery was a thing of the past," Smith said. "We have to reeducate ourselves about this reality."

 
  A Damning Admission: New York Times Concealed NSA Spying Until After 2004 ElectionAugust 22, 2006 09:04 A column by New York Times public editor Byron Calame August 13 reveals that the newspaper withheld a story about the Bush administration’s program of illegal domestic spying until after the 2004 election, and then lied about it.

On December 16, 2005, the Times reported that President Bush had authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to monitor thousands of telephone conversations and e-mails in the US without court approval. At the time, the Times acknowledged that it had, at the urging of the Bush administration, withheld publication of the story, saying it held its exposé back “for a year.” This time frame suggested that the newspaper made the decision to withhold publication of the story after the 2004 presidential election.

Such a delay was, in itself, unpardonable, and provoked angry criticism. Now we learn, from an interview with Executive Editor Bill Keller conducted by Calame, that internal discussions at the Times about drafts of the eventual article had been “dragging on for weeks” before the November 2, 2004, election, which resulted in a victory for Bush.
  Experts: Sex Slavery Widespread In USAugust 21, 2006 10:02 Raids that uncovered more than 70 suspected sex slaves focused on 20 brothels in the East, but they illustrated a long-ignored national problem found in towns large and small, experts say.

"It's a very overwhelming subject for a lot of people to recognize that there is slavery at this time in our country," said Carole Angel, staff attorney with the Immigrant Women Program of the women's rights advocacy group Legal Momentum in Washington. "It's hard for us as humans to contemplate what this means."

The concept of slavery in the 21st century is foreign to most people, agreed Jolene Smith, executive director of Free The Slaves, a Washington-based organization dedicated to ending slavery worldwide.

"Americans are conditioned to believe that slavery was a thing of the past," Smith said. "We have to reeducate ourselves about this reality."
  Mo. Plans Appeal In Inmate Abortion CaseAugust 17, 2006 09:19 The state will appeal a federal court ruling requiring that pregnant inmates be taken to abortion clinics when they request the procedure, Attorney General Jay Nixon said.

U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple of Kansas City concluded last month that a Missouri policy against transporting inmates for abortions violated constitutional safeguards for due process and against cruel and unusual punishment.

Nixon filed a notice of appeal to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. The appeal will be grounded on a 1986 Missouri law prohibiting the use of public funds, facilities and employees to assist an abortion when it's not necessary to save the life of the woman, spokesman John Fougere said.
  Where Does God Stand On Abortion?August 14, 2006 08:48 The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take up one aspect of the abortion issue in its next term — specifically the constitutionality of a rare procedure opponents call "partial-birth" abortion — and as a result will find itself embroiled in a marathon religious duel marked by vitriol, apocalyptic visions and relentless maneuvering. Religious leaders will speak passionately on both sides of the issue, quote Scripture against each other and claim to express God's will.

A third religious constituency, however, has lost interest in the abortion debate — some because homosexuality seems more pertinent; some because other issues such as war, justice, economic distress and terrorism seem more pressing.

In the abortion battle, each religious camp thinks it has gained ground since Roe v. Wade in 1973, in which the Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide. One side, calling itself "pro-life," believes that new high court Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts will tilt toward its anti-abortion position. The other side, calling itself "pro-choice," believes that public opinion has moved toward greater acceptance of legal abortion and that the court will follow the trend.
  Pragmatic Americans Liberal And Conservative On Social IssuesAugust 08, 2006 10:02 Americans cannot be easily characterized as conservative or liberal on today's most pressing social questions. The public's point of view varies from issue to issue. They are conservative in opposing gay marriage and gay adoption, liberal in favoring embryonic stem cell research and a little of both on abortion. Along with favoring no clear ideological approach to most social issues, the public expresses a desire for a middle ground on the most divisive social concern of the day: abortion.

Together, the results of the latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life suggest that the public remains reluctant to move too far from current policies and practices on many key social policy questions. Despite talk of "culture wars" and the high visibility of activist groups on both sides of the cultural divide, there has been no polarization of the public into liberal and conservative camps.

Indeed, public opinion has moved little on these issues in recent years and continues to be mixed and often inconsistent, reflecting a blend of pragmatism and principle. For instance, a clear majority (56%) continues to oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry while 35% express support. But nearly as large a majority (54%) supports allowing homosexual couples to enter into legal agreements that would give them many of the same rights as married couples.
  US Senate Legislating Away Church State SeparationAugust 03, 2006 09:29 Americans United for Separation of Church and State today urged the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution not to make it more difficult for Americans to bring church-state violations into court.

The subcommittee is hearing testimony today from lawyers affiliated with TV preachers Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson on a proposal to deny legal fees and out-of-pocket expenses to plaintiffs who win lawsuits under the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. They are supporting S. 3696, "The Veterans' Memorials, Boy Scouts, Public Seals, and Other Public Expressions of Religion Protection Act."

The proposal is being touted by Religious Right groups as a way to discourage lawsuits challenging religious displays on public property. But, in fact, it is much more far-reaching and would deny reimbursement in conflicts ranging from government-sponsored religion in public schools to taxpayer funding for religious schools and other ministries.

"This bill is intended to make it harder for people to stand up for their religious liberty," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "It would be an outrage if Falwell and Robertson got away with this. Our constitutional freedoms don't count for much if individuals don't have the financial means to bring their legitimate claims before the bar of justice."