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The Friday Faxline

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The Friday Faxline
Issue 384, December 3, 2004

Defense Secretary defends Boy Scouts
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sent a letter this week to Congressional leaders reinforcing the Pentagon's support of the Boy Scouts despite a court settlement won by the American Civil Liberties Union that the Department of Defense could no longer officially sponsor Scout troops. The ACLU suit alleges that troop sponsorships are an unconstitutional establishment of religion.

Economic growth at 3.9%, 112,000 new jobs in November
New figures released by the Department of Labor show that the economy added 112,000 jobs in November and the national unemployment rate dropped to 5.4 percent. In the last year, job creation is up in 47 of 50 states, including Pennsylvania . Additionally, economic statistics released earlier this week show that the economy grew at a rate of 3.9 percent in the third quarter of 2004.

Cord blood stem cells help woman walk again
Hwang Mi-Soon, a South Korean woman who had been unable to walk since inuring her back 20 years ago, is walking again. Scientists repaired her spinal cord by injecting stem cells from the blood of an umbilical cord directly into the damaged part of her spine. Cord blood contains "multipotent stem cells" which are capable of forming specialized cell types, such as the nerve cells that cured Ms. Mi-Soon. Like other forms of adult stem cells, they are safe, ethical, and effective. On the contrary, embryonic stem cells - derived by the creation, cloning, and destruction of human embryos - present serious ethical concerns and have not been used to treat one human patient.

Senator calls on Kofi Annan to resign
Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman has called on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to step down from his post amidst allegations that under his watch Saddam Hussein manipulated the Oil-for-Food program to the tune of more than $20 billion. Senator Coleman's call came as evidence turned up by investigators suggests that Mr. Annan's son was improperly influencing the program on behalf of Cotecna Inspection, S.A. , the company tasked with inspecting shipments into Iraq . Apparently, Kojo Annan continued to receive payment through earlier this year despite having left the company in 1998. Memos show that he followed his father to U.N. meetings worldwide and met with foreign leaders on Cotecna's behalf. Several American companies are also part of the investigation as is Mark Rich. Mr. Rich was a fugitive living in Switzerland until he was pardoned by President Clinton in January 2001. ABC News reported this week that oil industry records show that Mr. Rich acted as a middle man for several of Iraq 's suspicious oil deals in the late 1990s.

Court refuses to hear marriage case
On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court 's ruling that overturned the state's law defining marriage. The ruling will stand unless the state legislature acts to put an initiative on the ballot in November 2006. The ruling led 13 states to act preemptively by putting measures on the ballot to protect state marriage laws.

Quote of the Week
"Tom has served America for decades, including as a decorated Army soldier, as a United States Congressman, and as Governor of Pennsylvania . He is a long-time friend, and I thank him for his leadership and dedicated service to our country. America is safer and our government is better able to protect our people because of his hard work."
• President George W. Bush, 11/30/2004, thanking Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge for his service.

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