- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2001

NIH guidelines tell researchers how to destroy embryos

Your recent coverage of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines for destructive human embryo research may have perpetuated a common misunderstanding ("Law firm will sue Thompson, NIH over embryo research," March 8; "Senator backs stem-cell suit against NIH," March 9).

You write that under these Clinton administration guidelines, federally funded researchers must receive embryonic stem cells from "private laboratories" that use no federal funds. In other words, the researchers wishing to receive federal funds for stem-cell research cannot themselves destroy the embryos to obtain those cells.

This is simply not true. Under the guidelines, federally funded researchers clearly may kill the embryos themselves, as long as they use a nonfederal dollar for the act of destruction. The fertility doctor who creates the embryo for reproductive purposes must be different from the researcher who later kills the embryo "and/or" uses the cells (Federal Register, Aug. 25, 2000, page 51980).

What some NIH officials call the "separation" between "derivation and use" (that is, between destroying a human life and using the fruits of that destruction) is merely creative bookkeeping.

Even President Clinton's National Bioethics Advisory Commission attacked the "mistaken notion" that derivation and use of these cells can really be separated, that a person can somehow support one without supporting the other.

Make no mistake: These guidelines, in clear violation of a law passed by Congress (Section 510 of the Fiscal Year 2001 Labor/Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill), tell researchers how to destroy live human embryos for their own federally funded research.


Associate director for policy development

Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities

National Conference of Catholic Bishops


A general solution to black beret situation

I may have a solution to the Army's black beret debacle: Promote everyone to the rank of general. Though not all soldiers have merited the rank, giving them stars would certainly boost morale.

However ridiculous this sounds, it is no different from issuing Army privates black berets in the belief that it will raise their morale. Army management has now compounded the error by ignoring law and common sense and paying a premium to have the headgear produced in China.

Needing boots in time of war might justify such a crisis mentality. Wanting berets by springtime doesn't.

In a recent editorial, you quoted a Senate defense aide as saying, "We've got to help Gen. [Eric] Shinseki find a way out of this." Canceling black berets for the Army and retiring Gen. Shinseki would do the trick.



Diverse crowd gather to hear Civil War songs

Your front-page article about the "Civil War Live!" concert at the Kennedy Center seems to have stumbled haltingly through a topical briar patch ("History out of tune," March 12).

Rather than "About 100 Civil War historians and enthusiasts," as you report, an audience of 500, which included several attendants from South Asia and the Near East, packed the Terrace Theater to capacity.

Although the performance gave equal billing to the North and South, the highlight of the performance was when the entire audience rose to its feet while the 19th-century brass band played, and tenor Doug Jimerson sang, "America." Hearing the patriotic song in such a setting was warmly reminiscent of a bygone America I remember from my youth.

The proceeds of the concert will go toward preserving America's Civil War battlefields and heritage. I hope any future performances will see a doubling of attendance.



Navy could take advice from professional fundraisers

Your March 11 editorial "A fatal, underwater joyride" indicates that the civilians on the USS Greeneville were being rewarded for supporting Navy causes, including helping pay for the restoration of the battleship USS Missouri as a museum.

As a professional fund-raising officer and consultant with charitable institutions for 27 years, I was appalled at the lack of judgment shown by the Navy in this instance. The civilians' presence, as you put it, "clearly distracted the crew and undermined safety procedures."

Making donors feel like insiders is a time-honored and effective way to recognize them and encourage their continued involvement in a cause. Hospitals and universities have been successfully raising funds and recognizing donors for many years.

I have never heard of an instance in which donors have been allowed to participate in surgical procedures or even teach a class, unless they were truly qualified to do so in their own right.

If the Navy is going to continue to arrange special events for donors, it would do well to follow the example of experts in the field.



Population crisis mongering by the United Nations

Ben Wattenberg finds U.N. population forecasting to be "misleading" ("Miscast fertility forecasts," Commentary, March 8). Why, then, does the United Nations continue to promote as fact the myth that the world population is exploding? Population growth was "a powerful trend that peaked decades ago," Mr. Wattenberg writes. So why the apparent deceit?

The answer is quite simple. For more than 30 years, the United Nations, working with international nongovernmental organizations (such as the Sierra Club), has spent a great deal of time and effort in directing the rescue of the Earth from the ravages of overpopulation.

The mother of all rescues began in 1992, when the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro produced Agenda 21. Its 40 chapters and 800 pages contained global action plans for more sustainable societies in which population stabilization is an important goal. Without a population crisis, then implementation of Agenda 21 becomes less urgent. (Global warming, also a U.N. misrepresentation, is another such crisis. From the perspective of the United Nations, there can't be too many crises.)

Such crisis mongering is necessary to persuade people from free, prosperous countries to give up their sovereignty to save the planet. A great deal of political direction is required to substitute sustainability management for how we would freely choose to live.

If you think that such a scenario is unlikely, it already exists in your own back yard. The "smart growth" movement that has taken root in local communities across the country is a small-scale version of the U.N.'s utopian Agenda 21. I have experienced it firsthand here in Loudoun County.


Leesburg, Va.

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