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The Vatican has fired a warning shot over the bows of Barack Obama in response to the President-elect’s intention to lift the US ban on embryonic stem cell research.

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan of Mexico, who acts as the Vatican health minister, said that stem cells taken from human embryos and involving the destruction of the embryos “serve no purpose”.

Asked whether the Vatican was concerned about reports that Mr Obama might reverse the Bush Administration’s ban, the cardinal said that embryonic stem cell research had not resulted in any significant health cure so far and was “good for nothing”.

Research on adult stem cells and umbliical cords had been shown to have “positive value”, by contrast, although even that was not “a panacea for everything.”

He said the Vatican would seek clarification of the new administration’s position on stem cells, and he himself was not “fully aware” what it was.

Aides to Mr Obama indicated this week that he will reverse Mr Bush’s stand on stem cell research. The US Senate voted in July to remove restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, but the President vetoed the legislation the following day.

Mr Obama has supported stem cell research to find cures for diseases such as Alzheimer’s. His views are supported by Joe Biden, the Vice-President-elect, who is a Roman Catholic.

John Podesta, who is handling the President-elect’s preparations to take over in the White House on January 20, said Mr Obama wanted “all the Bush executive orders reviewed”.

He added: “I think across the board, on stem cell research, on a number of areas, you see the Bush administration even today moving aggressively to do things that I think are probably not in the interest of the country.”

Writing in the National Catholic Reporter, John Allen, a leading American Vatican watcher, said the Vatican would have “deep differences” with the Obama administration over abortion and embryonic stem cell research.

These, however, must not be allowed to impede US-Vatican co-operation in promoting “religious freedom and human dignity worldwide” or on issues such as immigration, economic justice, peace, and environmental protection, he said.

Carinal Barragan, President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers, made the remarks at a press conference on childhood disease and illness and infant mortality.

He called for an intensive effort to improve “both medical and pastoral” aid to children, saying that four million babies in the world died each year in their first 26 days of life.

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These clips from John McCain’s increasingly raucous rallies – are going all round the world – and it doesn’t look good – on the Republican Presidential nominee.

The whole thing looks bad – further because she said he’s an ‘Arab’ – and McCain answered Obama is not a ‘bad person’ – though you have to give McCain credit – for making the effort.

In the Islamic world if Obama’s father was a Muslim or even if his grandfather was a Muslim – in places like Egypt – or where there is Islamic law – Obama would have been arrested, tortured – never mind what his preacher of 20 years was saying – the very fact that he went to church would have been punishable under the law. Obama is a product of a free society – and by the looks of the McCain crowd we have to decide which world we want to live in.

Human Rights Watch Report Egypt: Prohibited Identities State Interference with Religious Freedom

Compass Direct Egypt: Father’s Brief Conversion Traps Daughters in Islam “Sentenced to three years in prison for failing to uphold her Islamic identity” “All of their children and grandchildren would be registered as Muslims,” “But I am a Christian”10 Oct 2008

Last night we posted text and video of the much-praised (by the media) moment at a John McCain town hall where he corrected a woman who told him that Obama was an “Arab,” and got booed by some in the bargain. It turns out that she is holding her ground. The Star Tribune of Minneapolis followed up today noting: “After the rally, [Gayle] Quinnell was unrepentant. ‘You can’t trust Barack Hussein Obama because he is a Muslim and a terrorist,’ she said.” It also turns out that she had actually said “Arab terrorist” but the second word was not picked up by the mike as McCain was grabbing it.

Talking Points Memo has a video of Quinnell talking to an interviewer, and summarizes the chat this way: “She got the idea from a pamphlet she got not from the McCain campaign but from a fellow volunteer at the local McCain headquarters, where she’s a volunteer. She’s been sending the pamphlet to people in her area. And she thinks that McCain really knows that Obama’s Arab but didn’t want to get into it with her on camera.”

Source: E&P