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Tag Archives: president
Posted: October 20, 2016 at 11:37 pm
Ascension is a 2014 Canadian/US-American science fiction mystery drama television miniseries which aired on CBC in Canada and Syfy in USA. It consists of six 43 minute episodes. The show was created by Philip Levens and Adrian A. Cruz. The pilot was written and executive produced by Philip Levens, who served as the showrunner.
On July 9, 2014, CBC added Ascension to its fall programming roster. It was originally scheduled to premiere in November 2014. In October 2014, CBC announced that the premiere date had been moved to January 2015. It started airing on CBC on Monday nights starting February 9, 2015. Syfy had originally announced plans to debut the show on November 24, 2014, airing one episode per week for six weeks. Instead the series premiered on December 15, 2014, and aired two episodes each night for three consecutive nights.
The story takes place aboard a generation ship originally launched in the 1960s and now half-way into its 100-year journey to Proxima Centauri. A murder onboard sparks off a series of events that lead the crew to begin second-guessing their real mission.
Ascension is inspired by the real-life Project Orion that existed under the administration of President John F. Kennedy. The show sets up an alternate version of reality beginning in 1963, in which Kennedy and the U.S. government, fearing the Cold War will escalate and lead to the destruction of Earth, launch a spaceship to colonize a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, assuring the survival of the human race.
The USS Ascension is a massive, self-sustaining generation ship. The journey will take 100 years, so only the children and grandchildren of the original crew of 600 volunteers will be alive when they arrive. The story begins 51 years into their journey (i.e. in the present), as they approach the point of no return. The action begins with the mysterious murder of a young woman the first homicide since the Ascension was launched. The investigation causes the ship’s crew to question the true nature of their mission.
It is revealed that the Ascension is in fact not a spaceship and never left Earth; it is actually a psychological experiment being carried out in a mock spaceship inside a secret underground facility. The current director of the project, Dr. Harris Enzmann, is attempting to use the experiment to evolve a superhuman. This appears to be successful in the form of Christa, a young girl born onboard who displays a number of telekinetic powers. Enzmann’s mission is opposed by others in the organization, and the murder sparks off a series of events that lead to Enzmann’s position being put in jeopardy.
To add to his troubles, an onboard accident results in one of the ship’s workers, the prime murder suspect, being ejected from the “ship”. He escapes confinement and meets a local reporter who is investigating the organization, along with the help of an investigator hired by the organization to solve the murder.
On March 13, 2014, came the official announcement that Syfy had ordered Ascension as a 6-part miniseries. Syfy billed Ascension as a “6-hour event series”.
Ascension is an original sci-fi mystery drama created and written by Philip Levens who serves as executive producer and showrunner. The series is produced in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, by Canada-based Sea to Sky Studios in association with U.S.-based Blumhouse Productions. It is co-financed and distributed by U.S.-based Universal Cable Productions and Canada-based Lionsgate Television.
Jason Blum and Mark Stern are executive producers on the project along with Ivan Fecan, Tim Gamble, and Brett Burlock.
On April 30, 2014, Syfy announced that Tricia Helfer would star as Viondra Denninger. On June 3, 2014, Brian Van Holt was announced to star as Captain William Denninger.
On June 24, 2014, Brandon P. Bell, Tiffany Lonsdale, and Jacqueline Byers were announced to co-star alongside Helfer and Van Holt, as First Officer Oren Gault, Chief Astronomer Emily Vanderhaus, and Nora Bryce respectively, and two days later, Andrea Roth and P.J. Boudousque joined the main cast as Dr. Juliet Bryce and James Toback respectively.
On July 7, 2014, Ryan Robbins joined the main cast as Safety Officer Duke Vanderhaus, and two days later, Gil Bellows joined the main cast as Harris Enzmann. Later the same day, Wendy Crewson was announced to guest star in an as yet unspecified role (which was ultimately that of Director Katherine Warren).
The series began shooting on July 7, 2014, in Montreal. Canadian director Stephen Williams directed the first two episodes.
The first promotional teaser-trailer was released on May 15, 2014, at the 2014 NBCUniversal Cable Upfront Presentation. The trailer is available for viewing on the official page of Ascension on Syfy’s website.
On July 14, 2014, executive producer and showrunner Phil Levens and executive producer Jason Blum appeared at the Television Critics Association (TCA) summer press tour to talk about the new series bringing along the principal stars of the show, Brian Van Holt and Tricia Helfer, to field questions from the ballroom of critics. (see below: Comments by the cast and crew)
On October 13, 2014, the network announced that instead of airing as a weekly series for six weeks, Ascension would air as a three-night “event” starting on December 15, 2014, with two of the six episodes airing each of three consecutive nights.
Although the show was ordered as a miniseries, it could have potentially run for multiple seasons, similar to the network’s popular series Battlestar Galactica.
On March 10, 2015, Syfy announced that they would not be producing any further episodes or seasons of the show, explaining, “We were very happy with Ascension as an event series, but with so much high profile development in the works, we have decided not to pursue a full series.”
Tricia Helfer (top) and Brian Van Holt at NBCUniversal’s 2014 Summer TCA Tour on July 14, 2014
Upon the official announcement, on March 13, 2014, that Syfy had picked up the miniseries, Bill McGoldrick, Executive Vice President of Original Content for Syfy stated: “Phil Levens has crafted a bold and surprising spin on the space opera. We are equally excited to embark on this journey with our partners at UCP, Sea to Sky, Lionsgate, Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions and also with Mark Stern who shepherded this project while at Syfy”.
On July 14, 2014, at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, Jason Blum, Tricia Helfer, Philip Levens, and Brian Van Holt commented on the upcoming show.
Executive producer Jason Blum said that:
What piqued [his] interest was the originality of EP Philip Levens’ story idea, which was inspired by the Orion military project under JFK. Levens pointed out that Kennedy squashed the development of Orion soon after Bay of Pigs as the military began equipping the spaceship with weapons. He was terrified that they were turning it into a Death Star.
About the starship he said that “it feels like a cruise ship. Essentially the ship is like a time capsule, another civilization that continued for 50 years parallel to our civilization.” Blum added that:
The people on the ship, only some of their children, but most of their grandchildren, are the only people who are going to arrive at this new world. A lot of the people who started on this ship have died. It’s their children, their children’s children, who are going to get to where they’re going. And there are a lot of conflicts going on. Should they turn around and go back to Earth, which they’ve lost touch with? So they have no idea of what Earth even looks like now. Should they continue? Also there’s been a murder on the ship, which never happened before. So that’s kind of what starts it.
Tricia Helfer said about Viondra that her “manipulative” character considers herself the “mother of the people on the ship, the mother of humanity in one way if Earth did blow itself up”. “Brian [Van Holt] and I play a married couple and as the wife, I’m definitely the woman behind the man more than we would see in our society here on Earth today”, Helfer added. She explained about the ship’s crew that:
Their morals and the values that they’re dealing with are still from the ’60s. The society on the ship is very hierarchical and uses genetic linking-arranged marriages, basically to sustain human life (three generations will be born during the trip to Proxima). [My] character Viondra started out on the lower decks but rose through the ranks, as did her husband. They’re a power couple. Viondra will do anything to stay in power.
Creator Philip Levens said that:
Ascension will explore how technology has evolved on the ship and the way morality is still rooted in an early ’60s, pre-Civil Rights Act view [of] humanity. Issues of class the ship is divided into decks, with people in positions of power living on the upper ones will also come into play. There’s much more of a sense of obeying your parents because, you know, for the ship to really work, everybody has to cooperate. The murder is kind of the starting of the unravelling, so to speak. And kids start to question choices made by their grandparents. There’s a thing on board the ship called “the crisis”. It’s this existential dilemma that everyone has to go through when they realize that, you know, their life has been circumscribed for them. You know, everybody they ever know or ever will know is already around them. So there’s lots of issues like that kind of play [as] a coming of age thing with the kids and their parents.
“Because the series is set on a ship that is self-contained and self-sustained, the people have evolved and developed differently than they would have if they’d remained on Earth. Not only is the technology different, but they think differently, too”.
Brian Van Holt described his character as “a man caught in the middle, aware that his legacy as the ship’s ‘middle route’ captain won’t probably go down in the record books. The one who launches the ship and the one who lands it will be remembered. No one in the now will be remembered. So he struggles with that”. He concluded by saying that “he’s a very ambitious character who sought out a leadership role, which was presented to him after an act of heroism on the ship”.
Ascension has been met with mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the show a rating of 65%, based on 20 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10. The site’s critical consensus states, “The characters in Ascension lack the depth that is necessary for its dramatic elements, but its premise may be smart enough to hold the interest of sci-fi fans.” On Metacritic, the show has a score of 56 out of 100, based on reviews from 14 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”.
Originally posted here:
Posted: October 13, 2016 at 5:36 am
The Top Online Casino Gambling News Reporting Site Since 2002! Latest News From the Casino Gambling Industry
Cheers and Jeers Abound for New UK Online Gambling Law May 19, 2014 The new UK betting law is expected to be finalized by July 1st and go into effect by September 1st. However, many are concerned the law could create another wild-west situation in the UK… Speculation on Casino Gambling Legalization in Japan Continues May 13, 2014 LVS owner Sheldon Adelson continues to create gambling news across the world, this time in Japan as he salivates at the possibility of legalization before the 2020 Olympics… LVS Owner Adelson Pulling the Strings of Politicians in the US May 8, 2014 Las Vegas Sands is playing the political system, and its owner, Sheldon Adelson, is the puppet master behind the curtain pulling the strings, according to new reports… New Jersey Bets Big on Sports Gambling, Loses – So Far… May 5, 2014 Governor Chris Christie may need a win in the Supreme Court to justify his defense for his initiative to legalize sports betting in the state… Tribal And Private Gaming Owners Square Off In Massachusetts April 28, 2014 Steve Wynn and the Mohegan Sun are squaring off in a battle for a casino license in Massachusetts, and the two have vastly different views of how regulations are being constructed…
Below is a quick guide to the best gambling sites online. One is for USA players, the other is for players in the rest of the world. Good luck!
As laws change in 2012 the internet poker craze is set to boom once again in North America. Bovada, formerly known as Bodog, is one of the only sites that weathered the storm and they are now the best place to play online. More players gamble here than anywhere else.
The goal of Casino Gambling Web is to provide each of our visitors with an insider’s view of every aspect of the gambling world. We have over 30 feeds releasing news to more than 30 specific gaming related categories in order to achieve our important goal of keeping you well updated and informed.
The main sections of our site are broken up into 5 broad areas of gambling news. The first area of news we cover is about issues concerning brick and mortar casinos like those found in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, the Gulf Coast Region, and well, now the rest of the USA. The second area of gambling news we cover concerns itself with the Internet casino community. We also have reporters who cover the international poker community and also the world of sports gambling. And finally, we cover news about the law when it effects any part of the gambling community; such legal news could include information on updates to the UIGEA, or issues surrounding gambling petitions to repeal that law, or information and stories related to new poker laws that are constantly being debated in state congresses.
We go well beyond simply reporting the news. We get involved with the news and sometimes we even become the news. We pride ourselves on providing follow up coverage to individual news stories. We had reporters in Washington D.C. on the infamous night when the internet gambling ban was passed by a now proven to be corrupt, former senator Bill Frist led congress, and we have staff constantly digging to get important details to American citizens. We had reporters at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas when Jamie Gold won his ring and changed the online gambling world, and we have representatives playing in the tournament each and every year.
It is our pleasure and proud duty to serve as a reliable source of gambling news and quality online casino reviews for all of the international gaming community. Please take a few moments to look around our site and discover why we, and most other insiders of the industry, have considered CGW the #1 Top Casino Gambling News eporting Organization since 2002.
The United States changed internet gambling when they passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), so now when searching for top online casinos you must focus your energies on finding post-UIGEA information as opposed to pre-UIGEA information. Before the law passed you could find reliable info on most gambling portals across the internet. Most of those portals simply advertised casinos and gambling sites that were tested and approved by eCogra, and in general you would be hard pressed to find an online casino that had a bad reputation. However, now that these gambling sites were forced out of the US they may be changing how they run their business. That is why it important to get your information from reliable sources who have been following the industry and keeping up with which companies have remained honorable. So good luck and happy hunting!
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), in short, states that anything that may be illegal on a state level is now also illegal on a federal level. However, the day after Christmas in 2011, President Barrack Obama’s administration delivered what the online gaming industry will view forever as a great big beautifully wrapped present. The government released a statement declaring that the 1961 Federal Wire Act only covers sports betting. What this means for the industry on an international level is still unknown, but what it means in the USA is that states can begin running online poker sites and selling lottery tickets to its citizens within its borders. The EU and WTO will surely have some analysis and we will keep you updated as this situation unfolds. Be sure to check with state laws before you start to gamble online.
The UK was the first high-power territory to legalize and regulate gambling online with a law passed in 2007. They allow all forms of betting but have strict requirements on advertisers. They first attracted offshore companies to come on land, which gave the gambling companies who complied the appearance of legitamacy. However, high taxes forced many who originally came to land, back out to sea and the battle forever rages on, but on a whole, the industry regulations have proven greatly successful and have since served as a model for other gaming enlightened countries around the world.
Since then, many European countries have regulated the industry, breaking up long term monopolies, sometimes even breaking up government backed empires, finally allowing competition – and the industry across the globe (outside of the USA) is thriving with rave reviews, even from those who are most interested in protecting the innocent and vulnerable members of society.
We strive to provide our visitors with the most valuable information about problem gambling and addiction in society. We have an entire section of our site dedicated to news about the subject. When a state or territory implements new technology to safeguard itself from allowing problem gamblers to proliferate, we will report it to you. If there is a new story that reveals some positive or negative information about gambling as it is related to addiction, we will report it to you. And if you think you have a problem with gambling right now, please visit Gamblers Anonymous if you feel you have a gambling problem.
In order to get all the information you need about this industry it is important to visit Wiki’s Online Gambling page. It provides an unbiased view of the current state of the Internet gambling industry. If you are interested in learning about other issues you may also enjoy visiting the National Council on Problem Gambling, a righteous company whose sole purpose is to help protect and support problem gamblers. They have a lot of great resources for anyone interested in learning more.
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Posted: October 6, 2016 at 2:56 pm
(Photo: Courtesy of Virgin Galactic)
At dawn one morning last Novemberjust as the edge of Earth comprising Florida spun into the field of light bursting from roughly 93 million miles awayshe emerged one last time from the monstrous doors of the Vehicle Assembly Building, twelve stories long but dwarfed. This was what had been billed as the final mission of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, a 9.8-mile journey to her final resting place at the Kennedy Space Centers visitors complex. That Atlantiss journey would begin at the VAB525 feet tall, the largest single-story structure in the world, having sprouted a half-century ago in the frenzy of the space race, as stupendous an achievement as each of the space-faring rockets that would be assembled inside itmultiplied the emotion.
Very far away, still sheathed in its massive launch-apparatus exoskeleton, one could make out Launchpad 39A, site of the historic Apollo 11 moonwalking blastoff, where Atlantis had also taken off to orbit the Earth, once more and finally, in 2011, marking the last in NASAs 30-year-old shuttle program. The other surviving orbiters, Discovery and Endeavor, had already completed their extraordinary processionals to museums in northern Virginia and Los Angeles (the latter requiring hundreds of trees cut and roadways reconfigured to accommodate its size). A throng of personnel was on hand, those who had built and maintained and flown her, including some of the 7,000 whose jobs were ending with the program. With signs and T-shirts that read WE LOVE YOU ATLANTIS and THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES and WE MADE HISTORY, they fell in behind her. Many wiped away tears as she crept along at two miles an hour, past the dense, still swampland that had, many times before, exploded along with her, the alligators and pigs and birds flushing at her ignition, the fish heaving themselves from the water, the light from the trail of fire flashing from their scales.
Now the procession was funereal. For NASAs public-relations machine, desperate to engage Americans notoriously fickle interest, it would amount to an odd victory: Stories about Atlantiss retirement appeared in media outlets across the globe, all written as obituaries. The events of the following evening were equally bleak: A formal dinner at the nearby Radisson commemorating the mission of Apollo 17, whose lunar module had closed its hatch 40 years earlier and ferried the last man back from the moon. In attendance were ten surviving Apollo astronauts, an extraordinary group to say the least, the only men to have traveled to the moon, now gray-haired or bald. Their fears for the nations space future were well aired; many of themincluding the famously reticent Neil Armstrong, whose recent death had cast a significant pallhad written letters to President Obama saying his space policy portended the nations long downhill slide to mediocrity. Just as China rushes to land on the moon by the end of this decade, the astronauts noted ruefully, the U.S. is now essentially vehicleless. For a taxpayer-funded fare of almost $71 million per seat, American astronauts are now taxied to the International Space Station by their former archenemies, the Russians, aboard the old, reliable Soyuz rockets against which NASA once raced. The delivery of cargo is now outsourced to private companies. In a tear-stained column titled In an Earthbound Era, Heaven Has to Wait, the Timess Frank Bruni said that for Americans already profoundly doubtful and shaken, the shuttles end carries the force of cruel metaphor, coming at a time when limits are all we talk about. When we have no stars in our eyes.
All of which made the scene Id observed in a desert town in southern New Mexico a week earlier even more exceptional.
In a landscape redolent of Mars, a group of scientists, many of them young NASA astronauts recently decamped to private industry, practically evangelized about this very moment: Unbeknownst to most of the world, after decades of failed Jetsons-esque promises of individual jetpacks for all, peoplecivilians, you and me, though with a good deal more meansare finally about to ascend to the heavens. If the twentieth-century space race was about the might of the American government, the emerging 21st-century space age is about something perhaps even more powerfulthe might of money. The necessary technology has converged in the hands of a particularly boyish group of billionaires whose Right Stuff is less hard-boiled test-pilot, more high-tech entrepreneuring wunderkindand whose individual financial means eclipse those of most nations. A massive industry is coalescing around them. Towns and states and even some countries are fighting one another for a piece of it. In New Mexico, workers are putting the finishing touches on the first of at least ten spaceports currently under construction around the world. More than 800 people have paid as much as $200,000 apiece to reserve seats on commercial flights into space, some of which are expected to launch, at long last, within a year. Space-travel agents are being trained; space suits are being designed for sex appeal as much as for utility; the founder of the Budget hotel chain is developing pods for short- and long-term stays in Earths orbit and beyond. Over beers one night, a former high-ranking NASA official, now employed by Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin transportation conglomerate, put it plainly: We happen to be alive at the moment when humanity starts leaving the planet.
Posted: at 2:56 pm
NSS deeply regrets the tragic loss of SpaceShipTwo on October 31 and extends it’s heartfelt sympathy to the families involved and to everyone who worked in this program.
“The process of creating a successful off-world tourism industry will be the key economic and technological driver enabling the human species to evolve into a real Solar System Species.” John Spencer, author of Space Tourism and President and founder of the Space Tourism Society.
“SpaceShipOne [showed that] space travel was no longer just the domain of prohibitively expensive government programs subject to political whim. Now it was just like any other business that could be developed into a thriving industry.” From Rocketeers.
2008: Tourists in Space: A Practical Guide, By Erik Seedhouse. Springer-Praxis. 314 pages. [Review]. [Amazon link]. The bulk of this book goes into considerable detail about what sort of training prospective spaceflight participants should undergo.
2007: Rocketeers: How a Visionary Band of Business Leaders, Engineers, and Pilots Is Boldly Privatizing Space, by Michael Belfiore. Smithsonian Books. 304 pages. [Review]. [Amazon link]. An excellent and exciting read that allows you to meet the major players in the development of privatized space flight.
2007: Destination Space: How Space Tourism Is Making Science Fiction a Reality, by Kenny Kemp. Virgin Books. 262 pages. [Amazon link]. A more accurate title would be The Virgin Galactic Story because that is essentially all that is covered (note that the publisher is Virgin Books).
2005: The Space Tourist’s Handbook, by Eric Anderson and Joshua Piven. Quirk Books. 192 pages. [Review]. [Amazon link]. A more accurate title would be The Space Adventures Story because author Eric Anderson is president of that company the first company to actually fly space tourists.
2004: Space Tourism: Do You Want to Go? by John Spencer. Apogee Books. 224 pages. [Amazon link]. A broad overview of the entire topic of space tourism, written by the founder and president of the Space Tourism Society. Offers unique perspectives not found elsewhere, such as parallels with the yachting and cruise industries. A significant contribution to the literature.
2002: Making Space Happen: Private Space Ventures and the Visionaries Behind Them, by Paula Berinstein. Plexus Publishing. 490 pages. [Amazon link]. A broad overview of space privatization featuring extensive interviews with the movers and shakers that are making it happen.
1998: General Public Space Travel and Tourism: Volume 1, Executive Summary. Joint NASA study concludes that serious national attention should be given to enabling the creation of in-space travel and tourism businesses, and that, in time, this should become a very important part of our country’s overall commercial and civil space business-program structure. 40 pages. [PDF 100K]
1996: Halfway to Anywhere: Achieving America’s Destiny in Space, by G. Harry Stine. M. Evans and Company. 306 pages. [Review]. [Amazon link]. Discusses what is involved in airline-like operations for spacecraft, and provides a history of the first re-usable rocket, the Delta Clipper.
“The sheer beauty of it just brought tears to my eyes. If people can see Earth from up here, see it without those borders, see it without any differences in race or religion, they would have a completely different perspective. Because when you see it from that angle, you cannot think of your home or your country. All you can see is one Earth….”
Anousheh Ansari, Iranian-American space tourist who flew to the International Space Station in September 2006.
“It was amazing. The zero-g part was wonderful. I could have gone on and on space here I come.”
Stephen Hawking, renowned British astrophysicist who was able to leave his wheel chair and experience zero-gravity aboard a parabolic airplane flight on April 26, 2007. Hawking plans to fly on SpaceShipTwo.
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Posted: October 4, 2016 at 1:28 pm
Cloning/Embryonic Stem Cells
The term cloning is used by scientists to describe many different processes that involve making duplicates of biological material. In most cases, isolated genes or cells are duplicated for scientific study, and no new animal results. The experiment that led to the cloning of Dolly the sheep in 1997 was different: It used a cloning technique called somatic cell nuclear transfer and resulted in an animal that was a genetic twin — although delayed in time — of an adult sheep. This technique can also be used to produce an embryo from which cells called embryonic stem (ES) cells could be extracted to use in research into potential therapies for a wide variety of diseases.
Thus, in the past five years, much of the scientific and ethical debate about somatic cell nuclear transfer has focused on its two potential applications: 1) for reproductive purposes, i.e., to produce a child, or 2) for producing a source of ES cells for research.
The technique of transferring a nucleus from a somatic cell into an egg that produced Dolly was an extension of experiments that had been ongoing for over 40 years. In the simplest terms, the technique used to produce Dolly the sheep – somatic cell nuclear transplantation cloning – involves removing the nucleus of an egg and replacing it with the diploid nucleus of a somatic cell. Unlike sexual reproduction, during which a new organism is formed when the genetic material of the egg and sperm fuse, in nuclear transplantation cloning there is a single genetic “parent.” This technique also differs from previous cloning techniques because it does not involve an existing embryo. Dolly is different because she is not genetically unique; when born she was genetically identical to an existing six-year-old ewe. Although the birth of Dolly was lauded as a success, in fact, the procedure has not been perfected and it is not yet clear whether Dolly will remain healthy or whether she is already experiencing subtle problems that might lead to serious diseases. Thus, the prospect of applying this technique in humans is troubling for scientific and safety reasons in addition to a variety of ethical reasons related to our ideas about the natural ordering of family and successive generations.
Several important concerns remain about the science and safety of nuclear transfer cloning using adult cells as the source of nuclei. To date, five mammalian species — sheep, cattle, pigs, goats, and mice — have been used extensively in reproductive cloning studies. Data from these experiments illustrate the problems involved. Typically, very few cloning attempts are successful. Many cloned animals die in utero, even at late stages or soon after birth, and those that survive frequently exhibit severe birth defects. In addition, female animals carrying cloned fetuses may face serious risks, including death from cloning-related complications.
An additional concern focuses on whether cellular aging will affect the ability of somatic cell nuclei to program normal development. As somatic cells divide they progressively age, and there is normally a defined number of cell divisions that can occur before senescence. Thus, the health effects for the resulting liveborn, having been created with an “aged” nucleus, are unknown. Recently it was reported that Dolly has arthritis, although it is not yet clear whether the five-and-a-half-year-old sheep is suffering from the condition as a result of the cloning process. And, scientists in Tokyo have shown that cloned mice die significantly earlier than those that are naturally conceived, raising an additional concern that the mutations that accumulate in somatic cells might affect nuclear transfer efficiency and lead to cancer and other diseases in offspring. Researchers working with clones of a Holstein cow say genetic programming errors may explain why so many cloned animals die, either as fetuses or newborns.
The announcement of Dolly sparked widespread speculation about a human child being created using somatic cell nuclear transfer. Much of the perceived fear that greeted this announcement centered on the misperception that a child or many children could be produced who would be identical to an already existing person. This fear is based on the idea of “genetic determinism” — that genes alone determine all aspects of an individual — and reflects the belief that a person’s genes bear a simple relationship to the physical and psychological traits that compose that individual. Although genes play an essential role in the formation of physical and behavioral characteristics, each individual is, in fact, the result of a complex interaction between his or her genes and the environment within which he or she develops. Nonetheless, many of the concerns about cloning have focused on issues related to “playing God,” interfering with the natural order of life, and somehow robbing a future individual of the right to a unique identity.
Several groups have concluded that reproductive cloning of human beings creates ethical and scientific risks that society should not tolerate. In 1997, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission recommended that it was morally unacceptable to attempt to create a child using somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning and suggested that a moratorium be imposed until safety of this technique could be assessed. The commission also cautioned against preempting the use of cloning technology for purposes unrelated to producing a liveborn child.
Similarly, in 2001 the National Academy of Sciences issued a report stating that the United States should ban human reproductive cloning aimed at creating a child because experience with reproductive cloning in animals suggests that the process would be dangerous for the woman, the fetus, and the newborn, and would likely fail. The report recommended that the proposed ban on human cloning should be reviewed within five years, but that it should be reconsidered “only if a new scientific review indicates that the procedures are likely to be safe and effective, and if a broad national dialogue on societal, religious and ethical issues suggests that reconsideration is warranted.” The panel concluded that the scientific and medical considerations that justify a ban on human reproductive cloning at this time do not apply to nuclear transplantation to produce stem cells. Several other scientific and medical groups also have stated their opposition to the use of cloning for the purpose of producing a child.
The cloning debate was reopened with a new twist late in 1998, when two scientific reports were published regarding the successful isolation of human stem cells. Stem cells are unique and essential cells found in animals that are capable of continually reproducing themselves and renewing tissue throughout an individual organism’s life. ES cells are the most versatile of all stem cells because they are less differentiated, or committed, to a particular function than adult stem cells. These cells have offered hope of new cures to debilitating and even fatal illness. Recent studies in mice and other animals have shown that ES cells can reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in mouse models, and work in other animal models and disease areas seems promising.
In the 1998 reports, ES cells were derived from in vitro embryos six to seven days old destined to be discarded by couples undergoing infertility treatments, and embryonic germ (EG) cells were obtained from cadaveric fetal tissue following elective abortion. A third report, appearing in the New York Times, claimed that a Massachusetts biotechnology company had fused a human cell with an enucleated cow egg, creating a hybrid clone that failed to progress beyond an early stage of development. This announcement served as a reminder that ES cells also could be derived from embryos created through somatic cell nuclear transfer, or cloning. In fact, several scientists believed that deriving ES cells in this manner is the most promising approach to developing treatments because the condition of in vitro fertilization (IVF) embryos stored over time is questionable and this type of cloning could overcome graft-host responses if resulting therapies were developed from the recipient’s own DNA.
For those who believe that the embryo has the moral status of a person from the moment of conception, research or any other activity that would destroy it is wrong. For those who believe the human embryo deserves some measure of respect, but disagree that the respect due should equal that given to a fully formed human, it could be considered immoral not to use embryos that would otherwise be destroyed to develop potential cures for disease affecting millions of people. An additional concern related to public policy is whether federal funds should be used for research that some Americans find unethical.
Since 1996, Congress has prohibited researchers from using federal funds for human embryo research. In 1999, DHHS announced that it intended to fund research on human ES cells derived from embryos remaining after infertility treatments. This decision was based on an interpretation “that human embryonic stem cells are not a human embryo within the statutory definition” because “the cells do not have the capacity to develop into a human being even if transferred to the uterus, thus their destruction in the course of research would not constitute the destruction of an embryo.” DHHS did not intend to fund research using stem cells derived from embryos created through cloning, although such efforts would be legal in the private sector.
In July 2001, the House of Representatives voted 265 to 162 to make any human cloning a criminal offense, including cloning to create an embryo for derivation of stem cells rather than to produce a child. In August 2002, President Bush, contending with a DHHS decision made during the Clinton administration, stated in a prime-time television address that federal support would be provided for research using a limited number of stem cell colonies already in existence (derived from leftover IVF embryos). Current bills before Congress would ban all forms of cloning outright, prohibit cloning for reproductive purposes, and impose a moratorium on cloning to derive stem cells for research, or prohibit cloning for reproductive purposes while allowing cloning for therapeutic purposes to go forward. As of late June, the Senate has taken no action. President Bush’s Bioethics Council is expected to recommend the prohibition of reproductive cloning and a moratorium on therapeutic cloning later this summer.
Prepared by Kathi E. Hanna, M.S., Ph.D., Science and Health Policy Consultant
Last Reviewed: April 2006
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Posted: October 3, 2016 at 1:04 am
As Nov. 8 looms, a dismayed, disconsolate America waits and wonders: What is it about 2016?
How has our country fallen so inescapably into political and policy gridlock? How did pandering to aggrieved niche groups and seducing blocs of angry voters replace working toward solutions as the coin of our governing class? How could the Democratic and Republican parties stagger so far from this nation’s political mainstream?
And the most pressing question: What should tens of millions of voters who yearn for answers do with two major-party candidates they disdain? Polls show an unprecedented number of people saying they wish they had another choice.
This is the moment to look at the candidates on this year’s ballot. This is the moment to see this election as not so much about them as about the American people and where their country is heading. And this is the moment to rebuke the Republican and Democratic parties.
The Republicans have nominated Donald Trump, a man not fit to be president of the United States. We first wrote on March 10 that we would not, could not, endorse him. And in the intervening six-plus months he has splendidly reinforced our verdict: Trump has gone out of his way to anger world leaders, giant swaths of the American public, and people of other lands who aspire to immigrate here legally. He has neither the character nor the prudent disposition for the job.
The mystery and shame of Trump’s rise we have red, white and blue coffee mugs that are more genuinely Republican is the party’s inability or unwillingness to repulse his hostile takeover. We appreciate the disgust for failed career politicians that Trump’s supporters invoke; many of those voters are doubly victimized by economic forces beyond their control, and by the scorn of mocking elitists who look down their noses to see them. He has ridden to the White House gate on the backs of Americans who believe they’ve been robbed of opportunity and respect. But inaugurating a bombastic and self-aggrandizing President Donald Trump isn’t the cure.
The Democrats have nominated Hillary Clinton, who, by contrast, is undeniably capable of leading the United States. Electing her the first woman president would break a barrier that has no reason to be. We see no rough equivalence between Trump and Clinton. Any American who lists their respective shortcomings should be more apoplectic about the litany under his name than the one under hers. He couldn’t do this job. She could.
But for reasons we’ll explain her intent to greatly increase federal spending and taxation, and serious questions about honesty and trust we cannot endorse her.
Clinton’s vision of ever-expanding government is in such denial of our national debt crisis as to be fanciful. Rather than run as a practical-minded Democrat as in 2008, this year she lurched left, pandering to match the Free Stuff agenda of then-rival Bernie Sanders. She has positioned herself so far to the left on spending that her presidency would extend the political schism that has divided America for some 24 years. That is, since the middle of a relatively moderate Clinton presidency. Today’s Hillary Clinton, unlike yesteryear’s, renounces many of Bill Clinton’s priorities freer trade, spending discipline, light regulation and private sector growth to generate jobs and tax revenues.
Hillary Clinton calls for a vast expansion of federal spending, supported by the kinds of tax hikes that were comically impossible even in the years when President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats dominated both houses of Congress. The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget calculates that Clinton’s plan would increase spending by $1.65 trillion over a decade, mostly for college education, paid family leave, infrastructure and health-related expenditures. Spending just on debt interest would rise by $50 billion. Personal and business taxation would rise by $1.5 trillion. Sort through all the details and her plan would raise the national debt by $200 billion.
Now as in the primary season, Clinton knows she is proposing orgies of spending, and taxing, that simply will … not … happen. She is promising Americans all manner of things she cannot deliver.
That is but one of the reasons why so many Americans reject Clinton: They don’t trust what she says, how she makes decisions, and her up-to-the-present history of egregiously erasing the truth:
In the wake of a deadly attack on American personnel in Libya, she steered the American public away from the real cause an inconvenient terror attack right before the 2012 election after privately emailing the truth to her daughter. The head of the FBI, while delivering an indictment minus the grand jury paperwork, labeled her “extremely careless” for mishandling emails sensitive to national security. In public she stonewalled, dissembled and repeatedly lied several were astonishing whoppers about her private communications system (“There is no classified material,” “Everything I did was permitted,” and on and on). Her negligence in enforcing conflict-of-interest boundaries allowed her family’s foundation to exploit the U.S. Department of State as a favor factory. Even her command and control of a routine medical issue devolved into a secretive, misleading mission to hide information from Americans.
Time upon time, Clinton’s behavior affirms the perception that she’s a corner-cutter whose ambitions drive her decisions. One telling episode among the countless: Asked by a voter if she was for or against the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, she replied, “If it’s undecided when I become president, I will answer your question.” As we’ve asked here before, will Hillary Clinton ever get over her consuming fear of straight talk?
Taken together, Trump and Clinton have serious flaws that prevent us from offering our support to either of them. Still, come Nov. 8, tens of millions of Americans willmake a draw that they consider beyond distasteful.
We choose not to do that. We would rather recommend a principled candidate for president regardless of his or her prospects for victory than suggest that voters cast ballots for such disappointing major-party candidates.
With that demand for a principled president paramount, we turn to the candidate we can recommend. One party has two moderate Republicans veteran governors who successfully led Democratic states atop its ticket. Libertarians Gary Johnson of New Mexico and running mate William Weld of Massachusetts are agile, practical and, unlike the major-party candidates, experienced at managing governments. They offer an agenda that appeals not only to the Tribune’s principles but to those of the many Americans who say they are socially tolerant but fiscally responsible. “Most people are Libertarian,” Johnson told the Tribune Editorial Board when he and Weld met with us in July. “It’s just that they don’t know it.”
Theirs is small-L libertarianism, built on individual freedom and convinced that, at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, official Washington is clumsy, expensive and demonstrably unable to solve this nation’s problems. They speak of reunifying an America now balkanized into identity and economic groups and of avoiding their opponents’ bullying behavior and sanctimonious lectures. Johnson and Weld are even-keeled provided they aren’t discussing the injustice of trapping young black children in this nation’s worst-performing schools. On that and other galling injustices, they’re animated.
We reject the cliche that a citizen who chooses a principled third-party candidate is squandering his or her vote. Look at the number of fed-up Americans telling pollsters they clamor for alternatives to Trump and Clinton. What we’re recommending will appeal less to people who think tactically than to conscientious Americans so infuriated that they want to send a message about the failings of the major parties and their candidates. Put short:
We offer this endorsement to encourage voters who want to feel comfortable with their choice. Who want to vote for someone they can admire.
Johnson, who built a construction business before entering politics, speaks in terms that appeal to many among us: Expanded global trade and resulting job expansion. Robust economic growth, rather than ever-higher taxation, to raise government revenue. A smaller, and less costly, federal government. Faith in Americans’ ability to parlay economic opportunity into success. While many Democrats and Republicans outdo one another in opposing the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, or TPP, we’re amused by this oddity: Today the nation’s two most ardent free-traders arguably are Barack Obama and Gary Johnson.
That said, Obama and Johnson are but two of the many candidates we’ve endorsed yet with whom we also can disagree. Johnson’s foreign policy stance approaches isolationism. He is too reluctant to support what we view as necessary interventions overseas. He likely wouldn’t dispatch U.S. forces in situations where Clinton would do so and where Trump … who can reliably predict?
But unless the United States tames a national debt that’s rapidly approaching $20 trillion-with-a-T, Americans face ever tighter constrictions on what this country can afford, at home or overseas. Clinton and Trump are too cowardly even to whisper about entitlement reforms that each of them knows are imperative. Johnson? He wants to raise the retirement age and apply a means test on benefits to the wealthiest.
What’s more, principled third-party candidates can make big contributions even when they lose. In 1992 businessman H. Ross Perot won 19 percent of the popular vote on a thin but sensible platform, much of it constructed around reducing federal deficits. That strong showing by Perot the relative centrist influenced how President Bill Clinton would govern.
We wish the two major parties had not run away from today’s centrist Americans. Just as we wish either of their candidates evoked the principles that a Chicago Tribune now in its 170th year espouses, among them high integrity, free markets, personal responsibility and a limited role for government in the lives of the governed. We hope Johnson does well enough that Republicans and Democrats get the message and that his ideas make progress over time.
This year neither major party presents a good option. So the Chicago Tribune today endorses Libertarian Gary Johnson for president of the United States. Every American who casts a vote for him is standing for principles and can be proud of that vote. Yes, proud of a candidate in 2016.
Join the discussion on Twitter @Trib_Ed_Boardand onFacebook.
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Posted: October 1, 2016 at 1:51 am
The Libertarian presidential candidate is the subject of intensifying ridicule following his latest televised flub when he couldn’t name a world leader he admired during a Wednesday interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. That follows another embarrassing on-air moment last month when, in response to a question about how he would alleviate the plight of the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo, he responded: “What is Aleppo?”
The gaffes, combined with his failure to make the debate stage and his infinitesimal chance of winning the White House, raise a pressing question: Why is Johnson still in the race?
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton ribbed Johnson Thursday by pretending to struggle when she was asked to name a world leader she admired. But she made clear her view that she and her Republican counterpart, Donald Trump, are the only viable candidates.
“Either Donald Trump or I will be the President of the United States,” she told reporters on her campaign plane, sending a clear warning to disaffected Democrats flirting with Johnson. “People have to look carefully in making their decision. It will be either him or me.”
But Johnson isn’t going anywhere.
William Weld, Johnson’s running mate, said the latest stumble doesn’t leave him with any doubts.
“He’s a deep person in terms of his thinking and he thinks through things in a way that many other people don’t,” Weld told CNN’s Randi Kaye Thursday on Anderson Cooper 360. “Pop quizzes on television are obviously not his forte but depth of analysis and surprising lines of analysis are his forte. I think he just needs time to expound what he’s thinking.”
Johnson’s decision to stay in the race isn’t just an academic question. He and Weld are doing well enough in swing states to pull votes from both Trump and Clinton. In the latest CNN/ORC poll of Colorado a state Clinton must win and which her campaign thought was already safe Johnson is polling at 13% among likely voters while Clinton trails Trump 42% to 41%.
Third party candidates have traditionally had a rough ride in the two-party US election system none have made a significant national impact since billionaire Ross Perot grabbed 19% of the vote in 1992.
But amid the most polarizing election in years featuring two major party nominees with historic unfavorability ratings, there may be a market for Johnson’s character and ideas.
“Something is obviously different this time,” said Kyle Saunders, a political analyst at Colorado State University. “Part of it is the unpopularity of the two major party candidates. The strongest of partisans are behaving the way they always behave.”
He added: “Those other people who are not the strongest partisans are looking for some other places to cast their ballot.”
And the more that the chattering classes disdain Johnson, the more stubborn he seems to get.
“It’s been almost 24 hours … and I still can’t come up with a foreign leader I look up to,” Johnson tweeted defiantly Thursday.
Johnson’s campaign manager, Ron Nielson, blasted Johnson’s critics as being guilty of “gotcha-ism at its worst” in a Facebook post and said that the oversight just proved that his candidate was just like other Americans.
“Gary Johnson is a real person. A pragmatist and the kind of leader that people can respect and trust,” Nielson wrote. “Unfortunately, as most Americans have come to realize, this is not the case with Clinton and Trump.”
It was not the first time that a presidential candidate has stumbled in a world leader pop quiz that raised doubts about their credentials to be President. In 1999, then-GOP frontrunner George W. Bush was stumped when asked by a Boston reporter to name the leaders of Chechnya, Taiwan, India and Pakistan.
And gaffes don’t seem to derail a candidate in 2016 the way they once did.
After all, Trump has made statements that are far more outrageous than Johnson’s comments — on an almost daily basis — and he is locked in a tight race with Clinton.
It’s debatable whether true Libertarian voters those who support the party because it favors a disentangling from foreign quagmires and a less robust US global role are that bothered that their candidate is not deeply acquainted with the details of the Syrian civil war.
But it’s not just verbal stumbles that are beginning to build pressure on Johnson.
His political position is also eroding because of his failure to hit the 15% polling threshold needed to muscle his way into the debates between Clinton and Trump.
Back in June, Johnson told The New Yorker that if he missed what he called the political “Super Bowl” “There’s no way to win.”
There are reasons — beyond the disdain that a large proportion of the electorate appears to hold for Clinton and Trump — for Johnson to stay in the race.
First, he appears to have the chance to make tangible progress for the Libertarian Party across the nation. In 2012, Johnson ran for President and won just under 1% of the electoral vote. Even if he only cracks 5% this time, that would represent an undeniable step forward for the party.
But there’s a more fundamental reason why Johnson may resist calls to quit.
He explained in an op-ed piece in the New York Times on Wednesday that the American political system, by producing such alienating rivals as Clinton and Trump, has failed. That, he argued, means reformers have no choice but to fight.
“Hyper-partisanship may be entertaining, but it’s a terrible way to try to run a country. We’re the alternative and we’re the only ticket that offers Americans a chance to find common ground,” Johnson wrote.
Johnson also appears to be building a significant base of support among millennial voters — a demographic that Clinton needs to dominate to make it to the White House — but which could fuel Libertarian Party growth in future.
A Bloomberg News/Selzer & Co. poll released Monday found Clinton’s 10-point advantage among younger voters cut to a statistically insignificant four points when Johnson and Stein are included in the race.
While some Democrats who abhor Clinton might be tempted by a fling with Johnson, he is also providing a refuge with Republicans who cannot stomach Trump. Antipathy for the billionaire prompted the Detroit News Thursday to do something it has never done in its 143 year history — endorse someone other than the Republican presidential candidate.
Still, Johnson’s resilience is causing genuine concern for top Democrats.
“There’s one message I want to deliver to everybody: If you don’t vote, that’s a vote for Trump. If you vote for a third-party candidate who’s got no chance to win, that’s a vote for Trump,” President Barack Obama said on the Steve Harvey radio show this week.
Vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine is warning wavering Democrats attracted to Johnson that they risk bringing about an electoral catastrophe similar to the one in Florida in 2000 when Ralph Nader siphoned votes away from Vice President Al Gore. That allowed Bush to claim Florida after the vote count showdown in the US Supreme Court.
“If Gore had been president, we probably wouldn’t had a war in Iraq,” Kaine told Yahoo News’ Katie Couric last week. “Casting a vote, a protest vote, for a third-party candidate that’s going to lose may well affect the outcome. It may well lead to a consequence that is deeply, deeply troubling. That’s not a speculation, we’ve seen it in our country’s history.”
CNN’s Eli Watkins contributed to this report.
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Posted: September 29, 2016 at 11:52 am
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Slide: 1 / of 18 . Caption: Travis McHenry or Montague Ier, King of Calsahara. Lo Delafontaine
Slide: 2 / of 18 . Caption: With a living area of 5,920 square feet, Sealand boasts multiple bedrooms, a chapel and a prison. Lo Delafontaine
Slide: 3 / of 18 . Caption: Princess Chirley of Sealand. Lo Delafontaine
Slide: 4 / of 18 . Caption: Prince Michael of Sealand. Lo Delafontaine
Slide: 5 / of 18 . Caption: The Consul Philippon de la Boirie of the Consulate of la Boirie. Lo Delafontaine
Slide: 6 / of 18 . Caption: The Consul Pascalux de la Boirie of the Consulate of la Boirie. Lo Delafontaine
Slide: 7 / of 18 . Caption: Frederikke Rose Holm, Julie Holstein, Nanna Gilsgaard, Christine Barnett and Bolette Winnerskjold Gjaldbk, The Butterflies of the Kingdom of Elleore. Lo Delafontaine
Slide: 8 / of 18 . Caption: The people of Elleore waiting for their king. Lo Delafontaine
Slide: 9 / of 18 . Caption: Sir Peter Anderson, Secretary General of the Conch Republic. Lo Delafontaine
Slide: 10 / of 18 . Caption: The airport of the Conch Republic. Lo Delafontaine
Slide: 11 / of 18 . Caption: The border between Molossia and the United States. Lo Delafontaine
Slide: 12 / of 18 . Caption: The post office of Molossia. Lo Delafontaine
Slide: 13 / of 18 . Caption: Kevin Baugh, President of the Republic of Molossia. Lo Delafontaine
Slide: 14 / of 18 . Caption: Georgette Bertin-Pourchet, President of the Republic of Saugeais. Lo Delafontaine
Slide: 15 / of 18 . Caption: Jacques Vuillemin, customs officer of the Republic of Saugeais. Lo Delafontaine
Slide: 16 / of 18 . Caption: Gianni Trucchi, guard of the Principality of Seborga. Lo Delafontaine
Slide: 17 / of 18 . Caption: Emperor George II of the Empire of Atlantium. Lo Delafontaine
Slide: 18 / of 18 . Caption: A television crew interviews the Emperor of Atlantium. Lo Delafontaine
Never heard of the Imperial Kingdom of Calsahara? The Conch Republic? The Principality of Sealand? Youre not alone.Lo Delafontaine hadnt either until 2012, when he visited the Republic of Saugeais, a self-proclaimed micronation in eastern France. Hes since become fascinated with countries unrecognized by world governments and organizations. His bookMicronations documents independent states that are just as varied and interesting as their official counterparts.
Humankind likes discoveries and challenges. One solution is the creation of new countries, but not in order to persecute people or for religious reasons. The idea, rather, is to create new countries and territories for fun, to make people think, to re-enchant the world in a way, he says via email.
French writer and historian Bruno Fuligni, who wrote the introduction to Micronations, estimates there are more than 400 of these self-proclaimed entities.
Delfontaine visited 12 locationsthroughout the US, Europe, and Australia. They included monarchies, republics, funny dictatorships, and some with no government at all. He earned citizenship in threethe Principality of Sealand, the Principality of Seborga, and the Conch Republic.
ThePrincipality ofHutt Riverin Australia draws thousands of visitors annually, which is one reason it exists at all. Others serve as political satire.Conch Republic, for example, was created in 1982 after Key West Mayor Dennis Wardlow symbolically began the Conch Republics Civil Rebellion by breaking a loaf of stale Cuban bread over the head of a man dressed in a U.S. Navy uniform according to the Conch Republics website. Some micronations are easily accessiblewhile others are difficult to get to.In Copenhagen, tourists can enter Christiania on foot, while visitors to thePrincipality of Sealand, a WWII island fortress six miles off the eastern shores of Britain, have to shell out over $2,000 for transport and a visa.
Regardless of their intention, these countries commit: They have national anthems and flags, passports and coins, militaries and laws. The Kingdomof Elleore hosts history classes for kids and created its own national sport.
Most of the people I met were really well educated, curious, ironic and completely aware of what they are doing. They are not crazy or greedy for power. But they like to dress up and make fun of their country of origin, he says.
Most of these micronations declared sovereignty between the 1970s and 1990s. But there have been some newcomers; the Imperial Kingdom of Calsahara in southern California declared its sovereignty in 2009. Delafontaine says most new micronations, like theKingdom of Talossa,exist primarily online.
I think that the golden age of micronations is almost over. The famous ones, like the Principality ofHutt River and the Republic ofSaugeais,are headed by very old people, he says. And after their death, their micronations will disappear with them. Young people interested in micronations dont seem to be interested in claiming a physical territory. They prefer to create new countries online. Its not better or worse, but its different.
Posted: September 22, 2016 at 8:02 pm
A Belgian lawmaker told CNN affiliate VTM that the physician-assisted suicide happened within the past week.
The child, who was suffering from an incurable disease, had asked for euthanasia, Sen. Jean-Jacques De Gucht told VTM. The identity of the child and age are unknown.
“I think it’s very important that we, as a society, have given the opportunity to those people to decide for themselves in what manner they cope with that situation,” said Gucht, a supporter of euthanasia legislation.
Wim Distelmans, who chairs Belgium’s Federal Control and Evaluation Committee on Euthanasia, told state broadcaster RTBF that fortunately few children had demanded mercy killing but “that does not mean we should deny them the right to a dignified death.”
In 2014, the bill extended the “right to die” to those under the age of 18. But there were additional strict conditions, including that the child was judged to be able to understand what euthanasia means.
Consent of parents or guardians must also be given.
“This can only be in cases of serious and incurable diseases, which is the same thing for adults … but for minors an additional condition is that the death must be expected in the near future,” Jacqueline Herremans told RTBF. Herremans is the president of Belgium’s Association for the Right to Die with Dignity and also a member of the federal committee on euthanasia.
Belgium is the only country that allows euthanasia for children of any age.
The Netherlands also allows mercy killings for children, but only for those 12 and over. It became the first country to legalize euthanasia in April 2002.
CNN’s Margot Haddad contributed to this report.
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Posted: at 7:46 pm
Madison’s original proposal for a bill of rights provision concerning religion read: ”The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretence, infringed.” 1 The language was altered in the House to read: ”Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or to prevent the free exercise thereof, or to infringe the rights of conscience.” 2 In the Senate, the section adopted read: ”Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith, or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion, . . .” 3 It was in the conference committee of the two bodies, chaired by Madison, that the present language was written with its some what more indefinite ”respecting” phraseology. 4 Debate in Congress lends little assistance in interpreting the religion clauses; Madison’s position, as well as that of Jefferson who influenced him, is fairly clear, 5 but the intent, insofar as there was one, of the others in Congress who voted for the language and those in the States who voted to ratify is subject to speculation.
Scholarly Commentary .–The explication of the religion clauses by the scholars has followed a restrained sense of their meaning. Story, who thought that ”the right of a society or government to interfere in matters of religion will hardly be contested by any persons, who believe that piety, religion, and morality are intimately connected with the well being of the state, and indispensable to the administration of civil justice,” 6 looked upon the prohibition simply as an exclusion from the Federal Government of all power to act upon the subject. ”The situation . . . of the different states equally proclaimed the policy, as well as the necessity of such an exclusion. In some of the states, episcopalians constituted the predominant sect; in others presbyterians; in others, congregationalists; in others, quakers; and in others again, there was a close numerical rivalry among contending sects. It was impossible, that there should not arise perpetual strife and perpetual jealousy on the subject of ecclesiastical ascendancy, if the national government were left free to create a religious establishment. The only security was in extirpating the power. But this alone would have been an imperfect security, if it had not been followed up by a declaration of the right of the free exercise of religion, and a prohibition (as we have seen) of all religious tests. Thus, the whole power over the subject of religion is left exclusively to the state governments, to be acted upon according to their own sense of justice, and the state constitutions; and the Catholic and the Protestant, the Calvinist and the Arminian, the Jew and the Infidel, may sit down at the common table of the national councils, without any inquisition into their faith, or mode of worship.” 7
”Probably,” Story also wrote, ”at the time of the adoption of the constitution and of the amendment to it, now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship. An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation.” 8 The object, then, of the religion clauses in this view was not to prevent general governmental encouragement of religion, of Christianity, but to prevent religious persecution and to prevent a national establishment. 9
This interpretation has long since been abandoned by the Court, beginning, at least, with Everson v. Board of Education, 10 in which the Court, without dissent on this point, declared that the Establishment Clause forbids not only practices that ”aid one religion” or ”prefer one religion over another,” but as well those that ”aid all religions.” Recently, in reliance on published scholarly research and original sources, Court dissenters have recurred to the argument that what the religion clauses, principally the Establishment Clause, prevent is ”preferential” governmental promotion of some religions, allowing general governmental promotion of all religion in general. 11 The Court has not responded, though Justice Souter in a major concurring opinion did undertake to rebut the argument and to restate the Everson position. 12
Court Tests Applied to Legislation Affecting Religion .–Before considering the development of the two religion clauses by the Supreme Court, one should notice briefly the tests developed by which religion cases are adjudicated by the Court. While later cases rely on a series of rather well-defined, if difficult-to-apply, tests, the language of earlier cases ”may have [contained] too sweeping utterances on aspects of these clauses that seemed clear in relation to the particular cases but have limited meaning as general principles.” 13 It is well to recall that ”the purpose [of the religion clauses] was to state an objective, not to write a statute.” 14
In 1802, President Jefferson wrote a letter to a group of Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut, in which he declared that it was the purpose of the First Amendment to build ”a wall of separation between Church and State.” 15 In Reynolds v. United States, 16 Chief Justice Waite for the Court characterized the phrase as ”almost an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment.” In its first encounters with religion-based challenges to state programs, the Court looked to Jefferson’s metaphor for substantial guidance. 17 But a metaphor may obscure as well as illuminate, and the Court soon began to emphasize neutrality and voluntarism as the standard of restraint on governmental action. 18 The concept of neutrality itself is ”a coat of many colors,” 19 and three standards that could be stated in objective fashion emerged as tests of Establishment Clause validity. The first two standards were part of the same formulation. ”The test may be stated as follows: what are the purpose and the primary effect of the enactment? If either is the advancement or inhibition of religion then the enactment exceeds the scope of legislative power as circumscribed by the Constitution. That is to say that to withstand the strictures of the Establishment Clause there must be a secular legislative purpose and a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion.” 20 The third test is whether the governmental program results in ”an excessive government entanglement with religion. The test is inescapably one of degree . . . [T]he questions are whether the involvement is excessive, and whether it is a continuing one calling for official and continuing surveillance leading to an impermissible degree of entanglement.” 21 In 1971 these three tests were combined and restated in Chief Justice Burger’s opinion for the Court in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 22 and are frequently referred to by reference to that case name.
Although at one time accepted in principle by all of the Justices, 23 the tests have sometimes been difficult to apply, 24 have recently come under direct attack by some Justices, 25 and with increasing frequency have not been applied at all by the Court. 26 While continued application is uncertain, the Lemon tests nonetheless have served for twenty years as the standard measure of Establishment Clause validity and explain most of the Court’s decisions in the area. 27 As of the end of the Court’s 1991-92 Term, there was not yet a consensus among Lemon critics as to what substitute test should be favored. 28 Reliance on ”coercion” for that purpose would eliminate a principal distinction between establishment cases and free exercise cases and render the Establishment Clause largely duplicative of the Free Exercise Clause. 29
Justice O’Connor has suggested that it is inappropriate to try to shoehorn all Establishment cases into one test, and has called instead for recognition that different contexts may call for different approaches. Supp.1 For example, the Justice proposes that cases involving government ”speech” on religious topics be judged by an endorsement test that would invalidate government actions only if a reasonable observer would perceive the action as an endorsement or disapproval of religious belief. Supp.2
Government Neutrality in Religious Disputes .–One value that both clauses of the religion section serve is to enforce governmental neutrality in deciding controversies arising out of religious disputes. Schism sometimes develops within churches or between a local church and the general church, resulting in secession or expulsion of one faction or of the local church. A dispute over which body is to have control of the property of the church will then often be taken into the courts. It is now established that both religion clauses prevent governmental inquiry into religious doctrine in settling such disputes, and instead require courts simply to look to the decision-making body or process in the church and to give effect to whatever decision is officially and properly made.
The first such case was Watson v. Jones, 30 which was decided on common-law grounds in a diversity action without explicit reliance on the First Amendment. A constitutionalization of the rule was made in Kedroff v. St. Nicholas Cathedral, 31 in which the Court held unconstitutional a state statute that recognized the autonomy and authority of those North American branches of the Russian Orthodox Church which had declared their independence from the general church. Recognizing that Watson v. Jones had been decided on nonconstitutional grounds, the Court thought nonetheless that the opinion ”radiates . . . a spirit of freedom for religious organizations, and independence from secular control or manipulation–in short, power to decide for themselves, free from state interference, matters of church government as well as those of faith and doctrine.” 32 The power of civil courts to resolve church property disputes was severely circumscribed, the Court held, because to permit resolution of doctrinal disputes in court was to jeopardize First Amendment values. What a court must do, it was held, is to look at the church rules: if the church is a hierarchical one which reposes determination of ecclesiastical issues in a certain body, the resolution by that body is determinative, while if the church is a congregational one prescribing action by a majority vote, that determination will prevail. 33 On the other hand, a court confronted with a church property dispute could apply ”neutral principles of law, developed for use in all property disputes,” when to do so would not require resolution of doctrinal issues. 34 In a later case the Court elaborated on the limits of proper inquiry, holding that an argument over a matter of internal church government, the power to reorganize the dioceses of a hierarchical church in this country, was ”at the core of ecclesiastical affairs” and a court could not interpret the church constitution to make an inde pendent determination of the power but must defer to the interpretation of the body authorized to decide. 35
In Jones v. Wolf, 36 however, a divided Court, while formally adhering to these principles, appeared to depart in substance from their application. A schism had developed in a local church which was a member of a hierarchical church, and the majority voted to withdraw from the general church. The proper authority of the general church determined that the minority constituted the ”true congregation” of the local church and awarded them authority over it. The Court approved the approach of the state court in applying neutral principles by examining the deeds to the church property, state statutes, and provisions of the general church’s constitution concerning ownership and control of church property in order to determine that no language of trust in favor of the general church was contained in any of them and that the property thus belonged to the local congregation. 37 Further, the Court held, the First Amendment did not prevent the state court from applying a presumption of majority rule to award control to the majority of the local congregation, provided that it permitted defeasance of the presumption upon a showing that the identity of the local church is to be determined by some other means as expressed perhaps in the general church charter. 38 The dissent argued that to permit a court narrowly to view only the church documents relating to property ownership permitted the ignoring of the fact that the dispute was over ecclesiastical matters and that the general church had decided which faction of the congregation was the local church. 39
Thus, it is unclear where the Court is on this issue. Jones v. Wolf restated the rule that it is improper to review an ecclesiastical dispute and that deference is required in those cases, but by approving a neutral principles inquiry which in effect can filter out the doctrinal issues underlying a church dispute, the Court seems to have approved at least an indirect limitation of the authority of hierarchical churches. 40
[Footnote 1] 1 Annals of Congress 434 (June 8, 1789).
[Footnote 2] The committee appointed to consider Madison’s proposals, and on which Madison served, with Vining as chairman, had rewritten the religion section to read: ”No religion shall be established by law, nor shall the equal rights of conscience be infringed.” After some debate during which Madison suggested that the word ”national” might be inserted before the word ”religion” as ”point[ing] the amendment directly to the object it was intended to prevent,” the House adopted a substitute reading: ”Congress shall make no laws touching religion, or infringing the rights of conscience.” 1 Annals of Congress 729-31 (August 15, 1789). On August 20, on motion of Fisher Ames, the language of the clause as quoted in the text was adopted. Id. at 766. According to Madison’s biographer, ”[t]here can be little doubt that this was written by Madison.” I. Brant, James Madison–Father of the Constitution 1787-1800 at 271 (1950).
[Footnote 3] This text, taken from the Senate Journal of September 9, 1789, appears in 2 B. Schwartz (ed.), The Bill of Rights: A Documentary History 1153 (1971). It was at this point that the religion clauses were joined with the freedom of expression clauses.
[Footnote 4] 1 Annals of Congress 913 (September 24, 1789). The Senate concurred the same day. See I. Brant, James Madison–Father of the Constitution 1787-1800, 271-72 (1950).
[Footnote 5] During House debate, Madison told his fellow Members that ”he apprehended the meaning of the words to be, that Congress should not establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any Manner contrary to their conscience.” 1 Annals of Congress 730 (August 15, 1789). That his conception of ”establishment” was quite broad is revealed in his veto as President in 1811 of a bill which in granting land reserved a parcel for a Baptist Church in Salem, Mississippi; the action, explained President Madison, ”comprises a principle and precedent for the appropriation of funds of the United States for the use and support of religious societies, contrary to the article of the Constitution which declares that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting a religious establishment.”’ 8 The Writings of James Madison (G. Hunt. ed.) 132-33 (1904). Madison’s views were no doubt influenced by the fight in the Virginia legislature in 1784-1785 in which he successfully led the opposition to a tax to support teachers of religion in Virginia and in the course of which he drafted his ”Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments” setting forth his thoughts. Id. at 183-91; I. Brant, James Madison–The Nationalist 1780-1787, 343-55 (1948). Acting on the momentum of this effort, Madison secured passage of Jefferson’s ”Bill for Religious Liberty”. Id. at 354; D. Malone, Jefferson the Virginian 274-280 (1948). The theme of the writings of both was that it was wrong to offer public support of any religion in particular or of religion in general.
[Footnote 6] 3 J. Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States 1865 (1833).
[Footnote 7] Id. at 1873.
[Footnote 8] Id. at 1868.
[Footnote 9] For a late expounding of this view, see T. Cooley, General Principles of Constitutional Law in the United States 224-25 (3d ed. 1898).
[Footnote 10] 330 U.S. 1, 15 (1947). Establishment Clause jurisprudence since, whatever its twists and turns, maintains this view.
[Footnote 11] Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 91 (1985) (then-Justice Rehnquist dissenting). More recently, dissenters, including now-Chief Justice Rehnquist, have appeared reconciled to a ”constitutional tradition” in which governmental endorsement of religion is out of bounds, even if it is not correct as a matter of history. See Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 2678, 2683-84 (1992) (Justice Scalia, joined by the Chief Justice and Justices White and Thomas, dissenting).
[Footnote 12] Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 2667 (1992) (Justice Souter, joined by Justices Stevens and O’Connor, concurring).
[Footnote 13] Walz v. Tax Comm’n, 397 U.S. 664, 668 (1970).
[Footnote 14] Id.
[Footnote 15] 16 The Writings of Thomas Jefferson 281 (A. Libscomb ed., 1904).
[Footnote 16] 98 U.S. 145, 164 (1879).
[Footnote 17] Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1, 16 (1947); Illinois ex rel. McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203, 211 , 212 (1948); cf. Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, 317 (1952) (Justice Black dissenting). In Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 614 (1971), Chief Justice Burger remarked that ”the line of separation, far from being a ‘wall,’ is a blurred, indistinct and variable barrier depending on all the circumstances of a particular relationship.” Similar observations were repeated by the Chief Justice in his opinion for the Court in Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 673 (1984) (the metaphor is not ”wholly accurate”; the Constitution does not ”require complete separation of church and state [but] affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any”).
[Footnote 18] Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, 314 (1952); Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962); Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963); Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 305 (1963) (Justice Goldberg concurring); Walz v. Tax Comm’n, 397 U.S. 664, 694 -97 (1970) (Justice Harlan concurring). In the opinion of the Court in the latter case, Chief Justice Burger wrote: ”The course of constitutional neutrality in this area cannot be an absolutely straight line; rigidity could well defeat the basic purpose of these provisions, which is to insure that no religion be sponsored or favored, none commanded, and none inhibited. The general principle deducible from the First Amendment and all that has been said by the Court is this: that we will not tolerate either governmentally established religion or governmental interference with religion. Short of those expressly proscribed governmental acts there is room for play in the joints productive of a benevolent neutrality which will permit religious exercise to exist without sponsorship and without interference.” Id. at 669.
[Footnote 19] Board of Education v. Allen, 392 U.S. 236, 249 (1968) (Justice Harlan concurring).
[Footnote 20] Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 222 (1963).
[Footnote 21] Walz v. Tax Comm’n, 397 U.S. 664, 674 -75 (1970).
[Footnote 22] 403 U.S. 602, 612 -13 (1971).
[Footnote 23] E.g., Committee for Public Educ. & Religious Liberty v. Regan, 444 U.S. 646, 653 (1980), and id. at 665 (dissenting opinion); Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39, 40 (1980), and id. at 43 (dissenting opinion).
[Footnote 24] The tests provide ”helpful signposts,” Hunt v. McNair, 413 U.S. 734, 741 (1973), and are at best ”guidelines” rather than a ”constitutional caliper;” they must be used to consider ”the cumulative criteria developed over many years and applying to a wide range of governmental action.” Inevitably, ”no ‘bright line’ guidance is afforded.” Tilton v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 672, 677 -78 (1971). See also Committee for Public Educ. & Religious Liberty v. Nyquist, 413 U.S. 756, 761 & n.5, 773 n.31 (1973); Committee for Public Educ. & Religious Liberty v. Regan, 444 U.S. 646, 662 (1980), and id. at 663 (Justice Blackmun dissenting).
[Footnote 25] See, e.g., Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578, 636 -40 (1987) (Justice Scalia, joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist, dissenting) (advocating abandonment of the ”purpose” test); Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 108 -12 (1985) (Justice Rehnquist dissenting); Aguilar v. Felton, 473 U.S. 402, 426 -30 (1985) (Justice O’Connor, dissenting) (addressing difficulties in applying the entanglement prong); Roemer v. Maryland Bd. of Public Works, 426 U.S. 736, 768 -69 (Justice White concurring in judgment) (objecting to entanglement test). Justice Kennedy has also acknowledged criticisms of the Lemon tests, while at the samed time finding no need to reexamine them. See, e.g., Allegheny County v. Greater Pittsburgh ACLU, 492 U.S. 573, 655 -56 (1989). At least with respect to public aid to religious schools, Justice Stevens would abandon the tests and simply adopt a ”no-aid” position. Committee for Public Educ. & Religious Liberty v. Regan, 444 U.S. 646, 671 (1980).
[Footnote 26] See Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983) (upholding legislative prayers on the basis of historical practice); Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 2655 (1992) (rejecting a request to reconsider Lemon because the practice of invocations at public high school graduations was invalid under established school prayer precedents); Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School Dist., 509 U.S. 1 (1993) (upholding provision of sign-language interpreter to deaf student attending parochial school); Board of Educ. of Kiryas Joel Village v. Grumet, 114 S. Ct. 2481 (1994) (invalidating law creating special school district for village composed exclusively of members of one religious sect). The Court has also held that the tripartite test is not applicable when law grants a denominational preference, distinguishing between religions; rather, the distinction is to be subjected to the strict scrutiny of a suspect classification. Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228, 244 -46 (1982).
[Footnote 27] Justice Blackmun, concurring in Lee, contended that Marsh was the only one of 31 Establishment cases between 1971 and 1992 not to be decided on the basis on the Lemon tests. 112 S. Ct. at 2663, n.4.
[Footnote 28] In 1990 Justice Kennedy, joined by Justice Scalia, proposed that ”neutral” accommodations of religion should be permissible so long as they do not establish a state religion, and so long as there is no ”coercion” to participate in religious exercises. Westside Community Bd. of Educ. v. Mergens, 496 U.S. 226, 260 -61. The two Justices parted company, however, over the permissiblity of invocations at public high school graduation ceremonies, Justice Scalia in dissent strongly criticizing Justice Kennedy’s approach in the opinion of the Court for its reliance on psychological coercion. Justice Scalia would not ”expand[ ] the concept of coercion beyond acts backed by threat of penalty.” Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 2684 (1992). Chief Justice Rehnquist has advocated limiting application to a prohibition on establishing a national (or state) church or favoring one religious group over another. Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 98 , 106 (1985) (dissenting).
[Footnote 29] Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 222 -23 (1963). See also Board of Education v. Allen, 392 U.S. 236, 248 -49 (1968); and Tilton v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 672, 689 (1971); Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 2673 (Justice Souter concurring) (”a literal application of the coercion test would render the Establishment Clause a virtual nullity”).
[Footnote 1 (1996 Supplement)] Board of Educ. of Kiryas Joel Village v. Grumet,114 S. Ct. 2481, 2498-99 (1994).
[Footnote 2 (1996 Supplement)] Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 688 (1984) (concurring); Allegheny County v. Greater Pittsburgh ACLU, 492 U.S. 573, 625 (1989) (concurring); Board of Educ. of Kiryas Joel Village v. Grumet, 114 S. Ct. 2481, 2500 (1994) (concurring).
[Footnote 30] 80 U.S. (13 Wall.) 679 (1872).
[Footnote 31] 344 U.S. 94 (1952). Kedroff was grounded on the Free Exercise Clause. Id. at 116. But the subsequent cases used a collective ”First Amendment” designation.
[Footnote 32] Id. at 116. On remand, the state court adopted the same ruling on the merits but relied on a common-law rule rather than the statute. This too was struck down. Kreshik v. St. Nicholas Cathedral, 363 U.S. 190 (1960).
[Footnote 33] Presbyterian Church v. Hull Memorial Presbyterian Church, 393 U.S. 440, 447 , 450-51 (1969); Maryland and Virginia Eldership of the Churches of God v. Church of God at Sharpsburg, 396 U.S. 367 (1970). For a similar rule of neutrality in another context, see United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78 (1944) (denying defendant charged with mail fraud through dissemination of purported religious literature the right to present to the jury evidence of the truthfulness of the religious views he urged).
[Footnote 34] Presbyterian Church v. Hull Memorial Presbyterian Church, 393 U.S. 440, 449 (1969); Maryland and Virginia Eldership of the Churches of God v. Church of God of Sharpsburg, 396 U.S. 367, 368 (1970). See also id. at 368-70 (Justice Brennan concurring).
[Footnote 35] The Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese v. Dionisije Milivojevich, 426 U.S. 697, 720 -25 (1976). In Gonzalez v. Archbishop, 280 U.S. 1 (1929), the Court had permitted limited inquiry into the legality of the actions taken under church rules. The Serbian Eastern Court disapproved of this inquiry with respect to concepts of ”arbitrariness,” although it reserved decision on the ”fraud” and ”collusion” exceptions. 426 U.S. at 708 -20.
[Footnote 36] 443 U.S. 595 (1979). In the majority were Justices Blackmun, Brennan, Marshall, Rehnquist, and Stevens. Dissenting were Justices Powell, Stewart, White, and Chief Justice Burger.
[Footnote 37] Id. at 602-06.
[Footnote 38] Id. at 606-10. Because it was unclear whether the state court had applied such a rule and applied it properly, the Court remanded.
[Footnote 39] Id. at 610.
[Footnote 40] The Court indicated that the general church could always expressly provide in its charter or in deeds to property the proper disposition of disputed property. But here the general church had decided which faction was the ”true congregation,” and this would appear to constitute as definitive a ruling as the Court’s suggested alternatives. Id. at 606.
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