THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: Updates To Previous Posts
† Can We Be Adult About Stem Cell Research?: In a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature, Canadian researchers announced a process to create enough blood for a transfusion from a 1.6 X 1.2 inch patch of adult skin, reports Agence France-Presse:
By avoiding the controversial and more complicated processes involved with using human embryonic stem cells to create blood, this approach simplifies the process, researchers said. [Emphasis, The Stiletto] …
With the ability to create blood for transfusion from a person's own skin, the advance means someday patients needing blood for surgery or to treat anemia could bypass the blood bank and derive the necessary supply from themselves.
The breakthrough could also see future uses such as allowing patients undergoing chemotherapy to endure a longer regime of treatment without the breaks currently needed to rejuvenate the body.
But researchers say their new method can, and can avoid those potential hurdles. …
Cynthia Dunbar, head of the molecular hematopoiesis section of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health in the United States, said she was eager to try out the Canadian team's approach.
"I think there are exciting aspects in terms of this potentially being a much safer approach than going back through embryonic stem cells," said Dunbar, who estimated it would be five to 10 years before the technique reaches the general public. [Emphasis, The Stiletto; unlike adult stem cells, pluripotent embryonic stem cells have an unfortunate tendency to form tumors rather than useful or therapeutic cells]
"I work for the US federal government, and whether or not we can work with embryonic stem cells is up in the air," she added. "I'm very excited to try this."
† Grandson Sold For $30K: The facts of this case keep getting curiouser and curiouser. The woman who tipped police off to Patty Bigbee’s attempt to sell her 8-week-old grandson is the daughter Bigbee had given up for adoption 26 years ago – and the daughter Bigbee kept, Stephanie Bigbee Fleming, 22, wanted to share the money her mother got for the sale of her son, reports The Daytona Beach News-Journal:
Bigbee and the biological daughter, 27-year-old Danielle Skiver, had found each other on Facebook in July and were communicating. Skiver told Bigbee that she wanted a baby. That's when Bigbee offered her grandson for sale. …
Fleming and Bigbee had agreed on a price for the infant. They discussed how to split the proceeds and Fleming agreed to take $9,000 so she could buy a car.
Fleming, also known as Stephannie S. Bigbee-Davis, has been charged with principal to illegal sale or surrender of a child.
† Is Obama Already A Lame Duck?: Unlike the weekly series of radio addresses President Franklin D. Roosevelt, dubbed his "fireside chats," President Barack Hussein Obama’s YouTube video equivalent, which are posted Saturday mornings, “have mostly passed under the public's radar” (which is a polite way of saying, they generate little traffic), reports Congress.org:
Since taking office in January of 2009, Obama has given 95 weekly addresses. …
The most-viewed video, his very first weekly address on Jan. 24, 2009, has been seen more than 1.2 million times. But viewership has since decreased steadily.
Since May of last year, no video has had more than 100,000 views and most have been closer to 20,000, numbers far below the millions of his campaign videos. Some presidential watchers wonder if the time for the weekly radio address has passed.
"I don't know that he needs this forum. President [Barack] Obama is plenty visible in the media already," said Jeff McCall, a professor of communication at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. "By now, I think they're just imprisoned by tradition." …
"The topics have been superficial and tangential," he said. "It seems to me that the President is not passionate about these messages. When you've got one of these to do every week, it just becomes a routine chore. They come off as rather tired and boring."
Roosevelt's chats, which created a sense of national unity when the country was struggling with the Great Depression, received much more attention. After every address, millions of letters from listeners would pour into the White House.
When President Ronald Reagan, a one-time radio sportscaster, revived the practice in 1982, he aimed to deliver messages free of the media's influence and interpretation. His speeches often made headlines in newspapers the next day.
Editorial Note: Turns out Obama was a lame duck before he even became president.
[Hat Tip: New York magazine.]
† What Freedom Of Religion Means To Muslims: Part II: The Telegraph of London reports that 45-year-old mother-of-five Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian, has been sentenced to death for blasphemy. She is appealing the sentence, and says she is being persecuted for her faith.
Meanwhile in Iraq, two weeks after massacre of 56 Christians as they worshipped in church, a coordinated series of roadside bombs blew up in predominantly Christian neighborhoods, killing five people.
President Barack Hussein Obama - who found time to criticize Israel while on his whirlwind tour of Southeast Asia - was silent on anti-Christian violence that has reached a fever pitch throughout the Middle East even though he was given several opportunities to address the issue during his press conferences but instead offered up pabulum about “the great religion” of Islam.
† She Don't Lie, She Don't Lie, She Don't Lie, Cocaine: After deliberating for 15 hours, a jury of four men and eight women convicted former Lee County, SC, sheriff E.J. Melvin of more than 30 federal charges stemming from a conspiracy to extort money from drug dealers in exchange for protection from investigation, reports The Associated Press. Melvin is facing life in prison.
† Bank Behaving Badly: A year ago, Long Island Judge Jeffrey Spinner voided Diane Yano-Horoski’s $292,500 mortgage and gave her the house because her lender’s foreclosure paperwork was in disarray and it was not negotiating in good faith with her. Spinner and other NY judges have been dismissing 20 to 50 percent of foreclosure cases on the basis of sloppy or fraudulent paperwork filed by lenders, reports The Washington Post, but the Yano-Horoski case, in particular, “has alarmed the nation's biggest lenders, who say it could establish a dramatic new legal precedent and roil the nation's foreclosure system”:
In millions of cases across the United States, local judges have wide latitude to impose sanctions on banks, free homeowners from their mortgage debts or allow the companies to proceed with flawed foreclosures. Ultimately, the industry is likely to face a messy scenario - different resolutions by courts in all 50 states.
The foreclosure dismissals in this area of New York have not delivered free homes for borrowers. With so much at stake, lenders in this part of New York are aggressively appealing foreclosure dismissals, which is likely to keep the legal system bogged down, foreclosed homes off the market, and homeowners like the Yano-Horoski family in legal limbo for years.
"We believe the Yano-Horoski ruling, if allowed to stand, has sweeping and dangerous implications for the entire mortgage lending industry," said OneWest Bank, the family's mortgage servicer. …
In his November 2009 ruling, Judge Spinner of Suffolk County blasted OneWest for negotiating with an "opprobrious demeanor and condescending attitude." He also cited the bank's "duplicity" in offering a forbearance agreement with a deadline that had already passed and for presenting contradictory paperwork claiming different amounts for what the family owed.
With their case under appeal, the Yano-Horoskis now find themselves in a tricky position, wary of putting more money into a house that an appeals court could take away from them. …
[T]hey've let the $10,000 property tax bill become delinquent, and they worry an appeals court could not only reverse the earlier ruling but demand that the family pay back the mortgage for every month that has passed since.
† Updates To Previous Posts (fifth item, Multiculturalism: Jihad By Other Means): U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange issued a temporary restraining order to stop implementation of State Question 755, a new amendment to the OK Constitution supported by 70 percent of voters that prohibits state courts from considering international or Sharia when deciding cases, reports The Associated Press:
[A]n Oklahoma man filed a lawsuit claiming the amendment stigmatized his religion and would invalidate his will, which he said is partially based on Islamic Law. …
"My constitutional rights are being violated through the condemnation of my faith," said Muneer Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma. "Islam was the target of this amendment. This amendment does not have a secular purpose." …
The judge's order prevents the state Election Board from certifying the results of that vote. …
The order will remain in effect until a Nov. 22 hearing on a preliminary injunction.
† Updates To Previous Posts (sixth item Restorative Capital Punishment): The New York Times explains why it will be decades before Steven Hayes is executed by lethal injection for the murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, and her daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11 – if ever:
“Only the trial is over; the legal process is just beginning,” said Eric M. Freedman, a law professor at Hofstra University who was a defense lawyer in another Connecticut death penalty case.
Mr. Hayes’s trial, like virtually all capital cases in other states that have the death penalty, included any number of legal issues that judges and lawyers are likely to dissect in appeals in state and federal courts. …
The issues raised by defense lawyers beginning soon after the killings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, and her daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, included broad challenges to the death penalty itself and claims that extensive news media coverage of the crime would prejudice the jurors.
Apart from the specifics of Mr. Hayes’s case, Connecticut and other Northeastern states have been notably measured about carrying out those death sentences that have been voted by jurors. Since 1960, Connecticut has executed only one inmate, a serial killer, Michael B. Ross, in 2005, and that was after he very publicly pressed for his own execution after years of appeals. …
The likelihood that Mr. Hayes will ever walk to the execution chamber could also be affected by a long-running political debate about the future of capital punishment in the state. The state legislature voted to repeal capital punishment last year.
The departing governor, M. Jodi Rell, vetoed the measure, citing the Cheshire killings, and the death penalty was a volatile issue in the election last week.
† Updates To Previous Posts (fourth item, How ACORN Got Buried By “Squirrelly Right-Wingers”): An audit by the Department of Housing and Urban Development's inspector general finds that ACORN should return a $3.2 million federal grant awarded during fiscal years 2004 and 2005, because it can’t document that the money was spent to remove lead from low-income housing, reports The Associated Press:
The auditors also said some of the grant money was spent inappropriately, including for political campaigns and fundraising. …
Auditors questioned about $2 million because ACORN Associates didn't document open competition by contractors -- many of them ACORN affiliates throughout the country.
The inspector general said HUD should demand records that document why contractors were selected and records that justify the lack of competition.
Another $1.2 million was found to have been spent on ineligible activities, such as payroll taxes and workmen's compensation insurance. A small portion of that money, about $6,000, went for fundraising and political campaigns.
Meanwhile, former ACORN supervisor Amy Busefink, 28, pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit the crime of compensation for registration of voters for paying canvassers to register voters in NV during the 2008 presidential campaign, reports The Associated Press.
† Updates To Previous Posts (seventh item, Squatters Take Over Foreclosed Homes): Relying on an 1869 FL statute permitting “adverse possession,” Mark Guerette has been seizing long vacant, foreclosed homes and inviting low-income families to occupy them and keep them in good repair in lieu of rent, reports The New York Times:
The statute generally requires that properties be maintained openly and continuously, which usually means paying property taxes and utility bills.
It is not clear how many people are testing the idea, but lawyers say that do-it-yourself possession cases have been popping up all over the country - and, they note, these self-proclaimed owners play an odd role in a real-estate mess that never seems to end. Though they may cringe at the analogy, as squatters with bank accounts, these adverse possessors are like leeches, and it can be difficult to tell at times whether they are cleaning a wound already there, or making it worse. …
He said he got started last year, driving around working-class neighborhoods in Palm Beach and Broward Counties, looking for a particular kind of home: not just those with overgrown lawns and broken windows, but houses with a large orange sticker from the county reading “public nuisance.”
The stickers signaled owners out of touch: the county or city was unable to reach them.
Mr. Guerette filed court claims on around 100 of these properties, which appear to be in the process of foreclosure. Then he chose 20 that could be most easily renovated and sent letters to the owners and their banks - presumably overwhelmed - to make them aware of his plans. …
Nineteen of the owners and their banks did not respond, Mr. Guerette said. …
At his peak last year, he said he managed 17 homes with renters, some of whom he found on Craigslist, others through a Christian ministry in Margate, Fla. …
Michael Allan Wolf, a real estate expert at the University of Florida law school, said adverse possessors also disrupt the chain of title. Rightful owners end up having to evict tenants. The time between foreclosure and legitimate resale may be extended.
Even when adverse possessors help stabilize neighborhoods, “It is not an effective or efficient cure for the foreclosure crisis in Florida,” Professor Wolf said.
Guerette is scheduled to go on trial in December on fraud charges, and could face up to 15 years in prison.