4A - Thursday, March 12, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com I
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Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
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Ann Arbor, MI 48109
GARY GRACA ROBERT SOAVE COURTNEY RATKOWIAK
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Success with stem cells
Expanding stem cell research at 'U' is necessary for state
n Monday, President Barack Obama overturned a 2001
ban on embryonic stem cell research that former Presi-
dent George W. Bush instituted on 21 stem cell lines. This
means federal money can now go toward research on these lines.
And in light of the passage of last year's Proposal 2 in Michigan, the
University recently announced a new stem cell research program.
These are encouraging developments for scientists who wish to
remain competitive in their field while collaborating in an effort to
cure disease, not just in Michigan but across the country. Michigan
should take advantage of the new policies, bringing much-needed
research and money to the state while saving lives in the process.
Rules don't work if people
have no fear of them."
- Representative Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, referencing
enforcement plans of major companies to prevent fraud, as reported yesterday by The New York Times.
False progress in Darfur
On Election Day, Michigan overturned
a 1978 law that banned the destruction
of embryos. State scientists can now use
embryos that would otherwise have been
discarded from fertility clinics to derive
their own lines. The University also
announced Monday that it's beginning its
stem cell research program thanks to the
easing of restrictions. It has set aside $2
million to hire scientists and lab techni-
cians for the new Consortium for Stem Cell
Research, a part of the A. Alfred Taubman
Medical Research Institute.
Obama's decision shows a distinct policy
difference between his administration and
his predecessor's - a welcome change for
communities like the University that thrive
on research. Embryonic stem cells have
advantages that no other cells have, like the
potential to form any kind of cell, allow-
ing them to be manipulated easily and for
cures to be developed. Stem cell research
is a crucial research that will save lives -
scientists generally believe that embryonic
stem cell research can lead to cures for dis-
eases like juvenile diabetes and Parkinson's
disease. Now that restrictions on research
have been lifted, scientists at the University
and in the state can be competitive with sci-
entists around the country and worldwide,
developing cures to diseases that effect mil-
lions of lives.
This competition will help bring
researchers and money to Michigan as well
as allow for more scientists to collaborate
on research. The University has a stem cell
research lab at the University of California
at San Diego, and now scientists can do the
same research here, doubling the efforts
and pooling resources across the country.
This will also bring in more private dona-
tions as well as even more federal funding.
Increasing stem cell research here is good
for the state because it helps establish the
University as a premier research institu-
tion, in turn boosting the state's economy.
Despite the controversy surrounding
the destruction of embryos, this develop-
ment will benefit the economy while work-
ing toward solutions for sick and suffering
people. Obama's decision shows that his
administration is separating ideology from
the practicality of research, something the
Bush administration failed to do. The ben-
efits of embryonic stem cell research are
undeniable, and scientists from around the
country will now be able to make something
of its potential.
Last week, the International
Criminal Court issued an
arrest warrant for Sudan's
president, Omar al-
Bashir, on charg-
es of war crimes
in Darfur. Many
were pleased by
the news, within
and abroad, but a
number of orga- IBRAHIM
angered by the KAKWAN_
decision. The most
notable of these
was the African Union, which has
peacekeepers deployed in Darfur and
which to date has been the organiza-
tion most involved in protecting sta-
bility in the region.
This action, while sure to be cel-
ebrated by shortsighted activists,
will backfire on the very individu-
als it is intended to protect. Weary
of additional foreign interference in
its affairs, the Sudanese government
scaled back the activities of several
which it fears may have ties to for-
eign governments. It may seem like
paranoia, but in a place where the
Central Intelligence Agency has been.
confirmed to be active as recently as
1996 - funneling millions of dollars
to anti-government rebel groups -
such fears are not unfounded.
In addition to the harm the war-
rant's aftermath will cause the Dar-
fur civilians caught in the civil war, it
will also strain ties between the Unit-
ed States and its allies in the African
Union and Arab League.
At a time when the U.S. is losing
ground in Africa to China, which in
recent years has increased ties to a
number of African nations, support-
ing this decision is not in the U.S.'s
interest. Unlike the nations of South
America, Asia and Europe, the major-
ity of African countries secured their
independence within the last 60
years. As such, they remain weary of
foreign interference. Supporting the
issuance of an arrest warrant for the
active president of an African nation
will be taken as an assault on national
sovereignty and a throwback to a
colonialist era that has not yet faded
from minds of many Africans.
What's more, a coalition of nations
represented by the A.U., the Arab.
League, the Non-Aligned Movement,
China and Russia have all called for
a suspension of the arrest warrant.
Together, these countries represent a
majority of the nations in the United
Unfortunately, the Security Coun-
cil is expected to veto any resolutions
calling for the warrant's suspension.
It seems that the Western govern-
ments, which have sat idle since the
beginning of the conflict, will now
intervene and impose their will
against the wishes of the majority of
the developing world and a large per-
centage of the Sudanese people.
But in the more immediate sense,
the warrant will be little more than
symbolic. Bashir has to leave Sudan
to be arrested, and he has to go to a
country that is willing to arrest him.
Given the dismal support for the war-
rant, such countries are few and far
between. And it's not like the Suda-
nese people are trying to get rid of
him, either - he enjoys widespread
support across much of the country,
and on a recent visit to northern Dar-
fur, he was enthusiastically greeted
by thousands of supporters.
What is particularly worrisome is
that Sudan is not a member of the ICC.
If the ICC can charge the acting pres-
identof a non-signatory country, then
it sets a precedent that would allow
the issuance of warrants against offi-
cials of other countries that are not a
part of the Rome Statute, and there-.
fore not under the jurisdiction of the
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
ICC. Such countries not under the
ICC's jurisdiction include the United
States and Israel.
Perhaps part of the problem is that
the ICC chose to only charge Bashir.
The leaders of one of the country's
largest rebel groups, the Sudanese
People's Liberation Army - which
also stands accused of human rights
abuses by Amnesty International -
have escaped litigation. In fact its
leader, Salva Mayardit, spent this
week in Japan on the invitation of the
Why the U.S.
Bashir be jailed.
It is understandable that the A.U.,
the Arab League and a host of other
nations would stand against the
ICC's actions. The fact that Sudan's
president was charged for pursuing a
civil war against armed rebels when
those responsible for illegal war in
Iraq have met no personal legal chal-
lenges, could easily be seen as bias in
much of the non-Western world.
What little influence the U.S. has in
Sudan is already starting to decrease.
On Tuesday, the U.S. State Depart-
ment issued a statement calling for
all nonessential personnel to leave
the country, citing increased security
concerns. If we act against the will
of the A.U., the ability of the U.S. and
other Western governments to exert
influence on other African nations
will be diminished in the future,
whether this influence would be used
to promote peace or economic ties.
- Ibrahim Kakwan can be
reached at iiameelgumich.edu.
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
Islamic teaching, history
doesn't condone violence
TO THE DAILY:
Yesterday, the Daily ran an article about ter-
ror suspects on trial that made my heart sad
(9/11 suspects on trial defend terror attacks,
3/11/09). The story described the suspects as
"terrorists to the bone" who used a "violent
interpretation of Islam."
Islam is a religion of peace and never -con-
dones violence against innocent people. The
Quran says, "God does not love the aggressors"
(2:190). The concept of a violent interpretation
of Islam is contradictory. You might as well
say a vegetarian is a meat lover or a Christian
is an atheist. These individuals used the reli-
gion of Islam as a means to rally people to their
political cause. There is nothing in the prophet
Muhammad's behavior that set an example for
what these terrorists have committed.
I was always taught the stories of when the
prophet Solomon and his army came across an
anthill and the great pains they took not tosstep
on it. If a Muslim is to show such great com-
passion for an ant, then imagine how we should
treat people. Possibly the most important les-
son I ever learned from the prophet came dur-
ing his return to Mecca, his birthplace. He
returned triumphantly with many companions
and believers to the city where he and his fam-
ily were tortured, starved and exiled. He could
have taken revenge upon all the people who
hurt him in the past, but instead, he prayed for
them - the same way the Prophet Jesus prayed
for the people attempting to kill him.
Muslims around the world will never forget
those lessons of peace and respect for man. For-
tunately, I will soon forget yesterday's story.
Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Elise Baun, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca,
Satyajeet Deshmukh, Brian Flaherty, Emmarie Huetteman, Emma Jeszke,
Sutha K Kanagasingam, Shannon Kellman, Edward McPhee, Matthew Shutler,
Neil Tambe, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder
As the Michigan Student Assembly examines its own future on campus, the Daily would
like students to voice their opinions on what should be a part of its agenda.
E-MAIL YOUR IDEAS TO ROBERT SOAVE AT RSOAVE@UMICH.EDU
A si~ck health care s ystem'
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
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words and must include the writer's full name and University affiliation. Letters are edited
for style, length, clarity and accuracy. All submissions become property of the Daily.
We do not print anonymous letters.
Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org
E-MAIL HARUN AT BULJINAH@UMICH.EDU
TOE RECEstIN RE ACIS NA LOW
SNEVER EINISIHEI ~
T HIS QUICK SEO * * EA'L
t's difficult for most students at
the University to imagine what
it's like to go without access
to basic medical
services. When- -
ever we're sick or
injured, all we have
University Health -
and doctors are "
ready to treat us. L =
service is available MATTHEW
to all students. Of GREEN
course, we pay for
our medical cov-
erage as part of
tuition, but the price has been widely
accepted because those who set and
pay tuition have deemed excellent
health coverage worthwhile.
Sadly, the U.S. does not work as
efficiently as the University - but it
may soon be moving in that direc-
tion. In his address to Congress last
month, President Barack Obama
interwove plans for universal health
care with his basic formula for fix-
ing the economy. Those who weren't
Twittering in the audience heard
an evocative and optimistic plan for
curing America's sick health care
system. But there are the ideologues
- opposed. to what they ignorantly
refer to as "socialism" - standing in
the way of universal health coverage
for all Americans.
Many of these people believe that
health care is a privilege rather than
an inherent human right. They say
that a health care system like the
current American model promotes
a hearty incentive to succeed in
order to provide adequate medical
care. But applying this survival-of-
the-fittest rationale to the health of
human beings implies that if some-
one doesn't have the means, they are
apparently not entitled to be healthy.
Charles Darwin would be so proud.
But in a society noted for its unique-
ness, modernity and self-proclaimed
civilized nature, survival of the fit-
test is an antiquated perspective.
Other blind rightists carry on
about American medicine being on
the cutting edge of the industry, and
worry that if we socialize health care,
its quality might diminish. It's unde-
niable that American hospitals, doc-
tors and medical schools are some of
the most innovative in the world. But
for a profession entirely dedicated to
helping people, the current health
care system doesn't appear to be pay-
ing it forward.
According to the 2008 Central
Intelligence Agency Factbook, the
average life expectancy in the U.S. is
78 years. It is 82 years in Japan, 80.8
in France and 80.6 in Sweden. All told,
29 of the states in the United Nations
outrank the United States on terms of
life expectancy. If our current system
is actually the most fabulous, then
how could it be that Americans live
shorter lives than citizens of Israel
and the Netherlands? The fact that
the U.S. is one of the only industri-
alized nations on Earth that doesn't
provide universal health care prob-
ably has something to do with it.
A column by the New York Times'
Nicholas Kristof (<em>Franklin Del-
ano Obama</em>, 2/28/2009) points
out that the current model of getting
insurance from one's employer did
not arise from any sort of brilliant
plan for widespread insurance cov-
erage. Instead, businesses started
providing insurance as a fringe ben-
efit when workers were scarce during
World War II. Today, with millions
of people out of work, America can.
no longer rely on its employers to
provide insurance. The current eco-
nomic crisis only exemplifies why it's
time for national health care policies
It's odd that right-wing, free-mar-
ket capitalists have not realized that
by placing the burden of insurance
costs on the government, costs are
then lifted from businesses who no
longer have to worry about providing
insurance. "Among General Motors'
burdens," Kristof wrote, "is that it
has to pay health costs e4uivalent to
$1,500 for each car it sells." He then
suggests that many foreign business-
es do not have to worry about pro-
viding such a costly benefit and are
therefore have a competitive advan-
tage over American companies.
needs a checkup.
It is certainly expensive to pro-
vide health coverage for all Ameri-
cans. Tax increases will be imposed
upon the lucky few that can afford
them. But look at the big picture - a
startling number of Americans have
to choose between their health and
their home and between buying pills
and buying food. Affluent Americans
should want to help pay for the secu-
rity of those facing such decisions.
Republicans complain a. lot about
government spending. But they didn't
seem to mind paying for a war in Iraq
- merely a slice of the larger war on
terror - at a price of about $600 bil-
lion and counting, according to the
National Priorities Project. Paying
to make the world healthier makes
much more sense than paying to com-
- Matthew Green can be reached