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Archive for January, 2011

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/1/27/63033/7548?new=true

NEW SPINAL CORD INJURY RESEARCH BILL BRINGS EVERYTHING TOGETHER

By Don C. Reed

Sent: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 12:39 PM
Subject: AB 190 introduced – Spinal Cord Injury Research

AB 190 was introduced today.  This bill will impose a $3 additional penalty on all moving traffic violations and dedicate the revenue to the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund, which is operated by the University of California.
________________________________________
Ryan G. Spencer, Capitol Director
Office of Assemblymember Bob Weickowski
916-319-2020 – Phone
916-319-2120 – Fax

Dear Friends of Research for Cure:

To everyone who advanced paralysis cure research in the past, and to all who will fighting for this truly wonderful new bill: Thank you.

California’s Assembly Bill 190 (Weickowski, D-Fremont)  is the missing piece. If we can pass this bill– this bill– we change the world for all who suffer spinal cord injury paralysis and related neurological horrors.

The first mention of spinal cord injury was on the wall of an Egyptian tomb, and it said: “Of paralyzed soldiers, deny them water, let them die; there is nothing that can be done.”

When Roman Reed was first injured, September 10th, 1994, that was pretty much the prognosis. But Roman would not consider giving up; and we had the example of New York Patrolman Paul Richter, shot in the spine on duty, but fighting to fund for research for cure.

California Assemblyman John Dutra’s AB 750 said cure is possible, and provided seed money for the great dream. Legislative aide Ryan Spencer led the fight through all the committee hearings. Paralyzed advocate Karen Miner’s fragile but indominatable strength inspired us all.

That bill provided $14 million California dollars to research over nine years– and attracted an additional $60 million in federal and other sources of funding– new money and jobs for California.

Zach Hall, Os Steward, Wise Young, and especially the amazing Hans Keirstead led us forward with science; Christopher Reeve was our light in darkness. Tom Okarma’s bulldog courage brought Geron’s stem cells–and the research Roman’s law funded first– to human trials.  

Bernard Siegel’s World Stem Cell Summit and Stem Cell Action Coalition challenged the opponents of research, bringing together the advocates of positive change.

California and Bob Klein’s magnificent Prop 71 gave life to an entire threatened field, and leads the world today.

Many more– far too many to recall here– have toiled in obscurity toward a shining dream we all share.

I remember one beautiful retired nurse, maybe 80 years old, who told me, when I asked her opinion on Roman’s chances of ever walking again. She smiled and said:

“Hope is realistic. Work will make it happen.”

And now, at last, Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski’s AB 190 brings everything together.

The successful passage of AB 190 will provide the funds to combine the separate energies, and let California solve the riddle of paralysis.

It will not cost tax payers one cent; it will be funded by bad drivers. As car crash is the number one cause of spinal cord injury, it is only right and reasonable that those whose vehicular misbehavior endangers us all should pay a small fee– and bring us closer to the day when wheelchairs are for temporary occupancy only.

This is the bill. Now is the time.

Thank you all, so much, for making a miracle possible.

Please send letters of support to: stemcellbattles@aol.com

Love,

Don C. Reed

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LIEBERMAN’S LEGACY: a Stem Cell Research Protection Act?
By Don C. Reed

Throughout his career, Senator Joe Lieberman  (I-Conn) has always followed his conscience, even when it was not in his political best interests.

In 2000, when the Gore/Bush election was being decided by a handful of votes, vice Presidential candidate Lieberman insisted that U.S. soldiers overseas (trending Republican) be given extra  time to turn in their ballots.  He felt our soldiers always deserve the best of everything, including special help with voting—although it gave the GOP more votes.

In 2008, Lieberman endorsed and campaigned for John McCain, the Republican candidate. That made me so mad I wanted to smack the television set!

It made him the Republican’s favorite Democrat, and brought pain. The outrage was palpable. It cost the previously popular Democrat his party’s majority support, so he had to run for re-election as an independent.

But it was a measure of the man. McCain was his great friend, and that loyalty was unalterable.

Senator Lieberman recently announced his retirement.

Now I have never met the Senator. Even so, I would like to ask him a favor.

If I could, I would introduce him to my paralyzed son Roman Reed, and ask the Senator to lead the charge once more for stem cell research.

As Roman always says:

“Take a stand for stem cell research. Take a stand—so one day, everybody can.”

Right now, Joe Lieberman is uniquely positioned to protect the field of embryonic stem cell research.

America needs a law to protect stem cell research from activist judges, ultra-conservative ideologues, and the well-financed assaults of the Religious Right.

The Senator from Connecticut may be the one man in America who can work with all sides to develop and pass such a law.

As you recall, a major lawsuit, Sherley v. Sebelius, seeks to deny all federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. This would have devastating consequences: blasting our chances to lead the world in the burgeoning biomedical field, slowing the advance of progress, delaying cures perhaps for generations.

That lawsuit hinges on a single false assumption, without which the case would collapse.

Bush Appointee Judge Royce Lamberth states that Congress is against the research.

He is completely wrong. Congress supports embryonic stem cell research—but the law which would have put it on record was twice vetoed by George Bush.

In 2003 and 2007 Congress said YES to federal funding for stem cell research twice, in the most clear and unmistakable way. They debated the issue in both the Senate and the House, and had an up or down vote.

Twice, the entire legislative branch of the United States government went on record in support of federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research.

So how can Judge Lamberth make such a ludicrous claim, that Congress is opposed to what it plainly supports?

An obscure regulation, the Dickey-Wicker Amendment (DWA), prohibits “endangering embryos”.

That, the judge interprets as being against embryonic stem cell research—although the DWA was passed three years before human embryonic stem cells were even isolated for the first time—and three Presidents and their  accompanying Congresses have agreed DWA does not disqualify the research.

Never debated, and never voted on, the DWA cannot be called the will of Congress.

It was imposed on Congress, without consent. Calling it the will of Congress is like injecting poison into the body of a sleeping man, and then arresting him for being under the influence of drugs!

But Lamberth argues that Dickey-Wicker is the will of Congress, and on that basis will almost certainly decide against us.

The appeals court? Three more conservative judges, all Bush appointees—and after that, the Supreme Court, the Roberts Court, called the most conservative in modern history.

We need an official statement from Congress that it does indeed support embryonic stem cell research—we need, in short, a Stem Cell Research Protection Act.

It could be the Castle/DeGette version or others available with suitable updates, or something new.

But any such bill will require the votes of at least a few Republicans, and right now, they do not seem eager to cooperate with Democrats.

So: who better to reach across the aisle than the man who has paid such a high price for his willingness to support Republicans?  

If any non-Republican can influence them, it is this man.

To my friends in the stem cell research advocacy community, I urge you to contact Joe Lieberman and ask him to lead the charge to pass a Stem Cell Research Protection Act.

If you belong to a medical support group, contact your leaders and ask them to do the same.

If you live in Connecticut, or have a friend who does,  reach out to Senator Lieberman.

If you work at the University of Connecticut, (UCONN) or any college or institution where stem cell research must be funded, stand up for your endeavor, and for scientific freedom everywhere.

For me, when I hear the word Connecticut I think of the great stem cell scientist Jerry Yang, who worked tirelessly at UCONN– even as his facial cancer progressed. He several operations which cut into the muscles until his speech was difficult;  but he continued. At last his voice was silenced, but Jerry Yang’s work in Connecticut deserves to be remembered, and to go forward.

“Go forward!”, said paralyzed Superman Christopher Reeve, and so we must.
And where does Joe Lieberman stand on embryonic stem cell research?

Here are his words, when he spoke for America, opposing President George Bush’s restrictive policies:

“Mr. President I rise in support of the stem cell bills currently being considered by the Senate. Frankly, this debate has been too long in coming and I commend my friends, Majority Leader Frist and Minority Leader Reid, on coming to an agreement and bringing this debate to the floor.

“This is as real as it gets. This is about life over death and hope over despair. This is about encouraging astounding scientific advances that can relieve the suffering of millions of our fellow citizens, or accepting… a retreat as we watch the rest of the world march past us.

“… the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, H.R. 810, deals with embryonic stem cells.

“Let me say that with a big “E”. These embryonic stem cells actually hold the greatest promise for those afflicted with currently incurable diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart failure and spinal cord injury…

“The potential is breathtaking. What this means is that an individual with quadriplegia could walk again. The elderly affected by Alzheimer’s can be brought back from a hellish twilight and rejoin their families. Childhood leukemia could be banished to the realm of distant memory. And Americans everywhere will have a second chance at running with strong loud hearts.

“… President Bush issued an executive order which effectively banned federally funded embryonic stem cell research. This has stifled our nation’s attempts to lead the world in harnessing the potential and miracles of embryonic stem cells.

“The president reasoned, like many who oppose this bill, that the process of embryonic stem cell extraction amounts to abortion because these cells have to be taken from microscopic embryos that do not survive the process.

“What the President did not mention is that the embryos under discussion number in the tens of thousands. They are the unused embryos from in-vitro fertilization, are frozen in fertility clinics, are unique, and will be thrown away.

“I repeat: Thrown away. The chance to offer new life to millions of Americans suffering from debilitating by disease or injury will be discarded as medical waste…

“Let us be clear, alternatives to embryonic stem cells, such as umbilical cord and adult bone marrow stem cells, are inferior alternatives. They do not have the same regenerative potential and Congress has already authorized money that is currently being used for research in this area.

“Today we stand at destiny’s doorstep with the chance to have it swing wide and open into a new age of scientific and medical understanding. We must not hesitate.

“I urge my colleagues will join me in its passage H.R.810 and I call on President Bush to sign it into law and not veto the hopes and dreams of millions of Americans for whom astounding new cures may lie just over the threshold of our present knowledge…”

–From his website, accessed January 22, 2011: Lieberman Supports Federal Funding for Stem Cell Research 07.18.06

Joe Lieberman could unify friends of research for cure in all parties. The ideological logjam could be broken,  bringing hope to millions with chronic disease, here and everywhere.

What a shining moment to light the world.

What a legacy.

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Folks, nobody deserves more respect than stem cell supporters in Texas!

I have been friends with them a long time, and you would not believe the hassles they go through and the harassment they endure from the so-called “good people” on the other side– the anti-research side.

One example:

Imagine two people with Parkinson’s wanting to testify in favor of embryonic stem cell research, and they show up at the state house, ready to go– and the person in charge makes them wait till two in the morning, while he exhausts every possible delaying tactic to keep them from speaking.

But they won’t give up. They spoke then, and they are speaking today. It is up to us if they are to stand alone.

Below is a request for your signature, as an individual, or a group. Either one, is fine.

Now, here is my friend Lorraine Chalmas to tell you a little more.

Read it, sign it, pass it along.

And if it doesn’t reach you in the right shape, just go to http://www.txamr.org, and sign it there.

And thank you.

best,

Don C. Reed

It’s a new year and…

TAMR is preparing for the next Texas Legislative session that begins on January 11th. During the next five months, we will keep you informed of all stem cell related bills that will directly impact the ability of our Texas scientists to conduct research that will lead to treatments and cures for many of our most debilitating diseases, injuries and illnesses.

PLEASE SIGN OUR ONLINE OPEN LETTER. By adding your name, we will be sending a clear message to our Texas elected representatives: Don’t mess with Texas stem cells! Keep all National Institutes of Health (NIH) approved stem cell research legal in Texas. Our Texas citizens deserve the best that science and medical research can provide. See the upper left corner of our home page to read and sign our open letter.

Stem cell research not only fuels tomorrow’s health care but directly impacts our state’s economic health. A Texas friendly stem cell research climate will retain our state’s biotech companies, intellectual property law firms, venture capitalists and scientists conducting studies with National of Institutes of Health grants. To keep our Texas stem cell community in Texas, stem cell research must be driven by good science, not partisan politics.

TAMR is a nonprofit organization run completely by volunteers. I hope you will take an additional moment to learn more about our mission, our history and legislative successes. TAMR has a terrific group of scientists and legislative advisors who keep us abreast of new developments in the stem cell field and the legal implications of all pending legislative bills.

Donations of time, money and in-kind services are always welcome. Any contribution you can make will be appreciated and put to good use. Thank you.

Best Wishes for a happy, healthy 2011.

Lorraine Chammah
TAMR President

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