Federal Court Boosts Stem-Cell Research
A federal court ruled that the government can continue financing the research on embryonic stem cells, striking a blow to antiabortion activists who equate the research with murder. Opponents of the research argue that federal funding violates a 1996 law that says the government cannot fund research in which a human embryo is destroyed. A lower court shocked researchers last year when it ruled that President Obama’s expansion of HESC research was illegal and that research could not proceed while the case is pending. In a 2-to-1 ruling, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the government can continue financing stem-cell research. Stem cells were first discovered in 1998, and have been heralded for their ability to morph into any type of cells, opening the door for miraculous new treatments. President George W. Bush was the first to permit federal funding for the research.
Mitch Daniels to Sign Abortion Bill
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, a possible GOP presidential candidate, announced on Friday that he will sign a bill restricting taxpayer funding for abortions in his state. The bill, HEA 1210, will prevent the state from making contracts with abortion providers, except for hospitals and ambulatory centers. Planned Parenthood has 28 clinics in Indiana; eight of them are Title X-funded clinics. The announcement has already drawn a negative response from abortion rights groups. This is a different stance from last year, when Daniels angered conservatives by suggesting a “truce” on social issues. In the announcement, Daniels said that affected organizations can immediately resume receiving taxpayer dollars by “ceasing or separating its operations that perform abortions.”
U.S. Announces Syria Sanctions
The White House announced sanctions against three senior Syrian officials on Friday. The Treasury Department will freeze all assets under American jurisdiction of the three officials. One of the officials is President Bashar al-Assad’s brother, Maher al-Assad, who commands the Syrian Army division that has been leading the crackdown in Daraa. It is not clear how much impact the U.S. sanctions will have since Syrian officials tend to use European and Middle Eastern banks, but administration officials say that Arab banks might want to avoid angering the U.S. by continuing to do business with the Syrian regime. The U.S. also issued sanctions against the Quds Force of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the U.S. said has been helping to supply the materials Syrian forces have used against protesters. The European Union is considering similar measures, but efforts to create a broad coalition to pressure Syria have faced difficulties. Just this week, Russia and China stopped efforts to have the United Nations Security Council condemn the violence.