Executive Branch

July2022

The Earth’s distance from the sun, its composition, size, and temperate regions are factors that have allowed life forms to thrive in a way not yet observed anyplace else in the universe.

Heart Health

April2022

The heart starts to beat practically at conception and continues it’s life-sustaining role for a hundred years or longer.

Electricity

April2022

Electricity

Electricity is the activity of electrons. They’re found orbiting the nucleus of an atom and they’re one of the smallest particles in the known universe.

Executive Branch

April2022

Since 1789, when George Washington became our first president, Americans have been electing or re-electing the president and vice president every four years

Executive Branch

InstrideOnline Blog Post Dec2019

The preamble of the North Atlantic Treaty reiterates the ideals of the United Nations Charter, that members seek to live in peace with each other and to safeguard the principles of “democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law.”

Executive Branch

July2022

The cities, lakes, and ancient shrines on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea are sacred to the Jewish people as well as to the followers of Islam and Christianity.

Executive Branch

InstrideOnline Blog Post March2018

"… But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our power to add or detract …"

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scotus

The Supreme Court

SCOTUS welcomes Ketanji Brown Jackson 

Balance of Power

Though the 2021/22 term of the Supreme Court has concluded with the retirement of Justice Breyer and the welcoming of Ketanji Brown Jackson, the decisions handed down in recent weeks will be front-page news for quite a while. 

When President Biden, or any U.S. President, has the history-making opportunity to nominate a Justice to the Supreme Court, the strategy is to choose a nominee with a similar ideology who might vote on issues in a way that supports the administration.

During the process of “advise and consent” outlined in the Constitution, Senate confirmation hearings take place in order to question a nominee on his or her political and social affiliations, and on past verdicts.

Justices have lifetime appointments, serving on the Court until they retire, resign, or pass away.

Instead of campaigning for votes on Election Day, federal judges and Supreme Court justices are nominated by the president, approved by the Senate, and they serve lifetime appointments 

A Summary

A new term begins on the first Monday in October and closes in June of the following year.

The Court receives thousands of petitions, or “writs of certiorari,” and the Justices review each one before agreeing on about 80-100 cases to focus on in the upcoming term. 

Attorneys for both the petitioner and the respondent each file briefs with the Court, outlining their dispute or the reasons that a decision made by a lower court should be reconsidered. Supreme Court proceedings aren’t conducted in a trial setting, nor do they happen in a closed hearing. Each case is tried by all nine Justices unless there is an illness, a recusal, or while a new Justice is being chosen.

Each side has the opportunity to explain their views to the Justices, to answer questions, and to respond to the opposition. The Justices then go into conference and take a vote. If there are an even number of Justices voting and there happens to be a tie, then the decision of the lower court is upheld. Otherwise, they rule on the case and then each one writes an opinion, either agreeing with the majority ruling, opposing the majority ruling, or concurring with it for his or her own reasons.

SAFEGUARDING THE CONSTITUTION

The Supreme Court is the “last stop” for rulings on federal law in the United States, but it is only one part of the Judicial Branch.

The Judicial Branch governs the constitutionality of the laws created by Congress and provides the legal means to challenge the way the laws are enforced.

The U.S. Constitution provides for a Supreme Court and a system of lower federal courts established by Congress. 

The Judiciary Act of 1789 began that process, and through the years the federal court system has evolved to include:

  • 94 Federal District Courts 
  • 13 Courts of Appeal
  • The Supreme Court 
ipsc blog-min

Healing Properties

It’s not an easy thing to be perfectly health-conscious at all times. When we’re young, we might skimp on sleep and exercise. As adults, career and family pressures influence our diets. And in our later years we might find that we’ve developed some unhealthy habits that are difficult to break. 

But the good news is, every part of the human body is in a continual state of regeneration as worn out cells are replaced by new, healthy ones. In fact, scientists have found that we go through a complete “makeover” every 5-10 years. For instance, the cells of our skeletal system are replaced every 10 years, liver cells every 2 years, while red blood cells are renewed every three to four months.

And if we’re in good health, our body’s response to injury is just as astonishing. Cuts can be sutured, broken bones reconnected, and healthy organs can be transplanted to replace injured ones.

But many of the traditional procedures that physicians use, such as surgeries and transplants, are limited in nature and only restore partial or temporary function to tissue, organs, and joints.

What if a cancerous tumor could be replaced by healthy cells that would restore a kidney or a lung back to its healthy state? Or if cells could be injected into an arthritic joint to ease pain and regrow cartilage? In recent years, physicians have shifted their focus to regenerative medicine; methods and technologies that encourage our body’s own cells to proliferate and grow.

Born To Be Alive

At the focal point of regenerative medicine are stem cells. We’re used to hearing about these types of cells because of the ethical controversy of harvesting them from embryos. They’re present at this phase of human development for obvious reasons; stem cells can either replicate into more stem cells or differentiate into any other type of body cell.

Researchers are studying the activity of stem cells when they’re injected into a site where a patient’s own cells have been lost due to injury or disease. They’re hoping that stem cells could be used to encourage growth that would replace missing or worn out cells, replenish tissue, and speed up the healing process.

They’ve successfully used stem cells to treat some types of bone and blood cancers and they’re experimenting with their potential use in treating arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and most significantly, brain and spinal cord injuries.

Stem cells can either replicate into more stem cells or differentiate into any other type of body cell

They're Everywhere!

If stem cell therapies could potentially cure diseases and slow the aging process, then the challenge becomes, where to find them? 

Stem cells normally grow in small numbers in our bone marrow, liver, and brain. However, these only have the ability to grow into the same type of cell where they’re located.

Embryonic stem cells are the most valuable to medical research because they’re “pluripotent,” meaning they have the ability to differentiate into any other type of body cell. Harvesting these is somewhat controversial, though, because they’re extracted in a laboratory from discarded embryos.

In 2007, medical researchers discovered a way to change a normal adult body cell back into a stem cell by manipulating it’s DNA. These induced pluripotent stem cells respond the same way as embryonic stem cells, replicating themselves and differentiating into other types of body cells.

IPSC’s might even have benefits that embryonic stem cells don’t. Generating them isn’t at all controversial and, ideally, a patient could have a supply of them stored up for future use to treat a variety of conditions.

IPSC’s are currently being used in the laboratory to test for the side effects of certain “patient-matched” medications. And the fact that a patient’s own cells are sourced to create the iPSC means that there is little risk of rejection when used in tissue transplants.

st paul writing

A Guy Named Paul

Saul of Tarsus, also known by his Roman name, Paul, was born in the modern-day region of southern Turkey in about the year 5 CE. 

Paul was a Pharisee, belonging to an educated merchant class that often clashed with the Sadducees, the sect of Jewish priests and aristocrats with social connections to the Romans. He learned the tent-making trade of his family, and as a youth he was sent to Jerusalem to study Jewish law according to the original text of the Hebrew bible.

As a citizen of Rome, Paul was proud of his Jewish heritage and of the status of his wealthy family. Around 30 CE, he began to hear rumors about John the Baptist and eventually about Jesus, preaching and performing healing miracles in villages located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea.

cartoon image of shepherd in bible times

Life Changing Encounter

Paul not only persecuted Christians, he encouraged others to do the same. According to history, he was standing in a nearby crowd as St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was stoned to death in the streets of Jerusalem.

Soon after, Paul was journeying to Damascus, reportedly to apprehend Christians and return them to Jerusalem to stand trial. In the Book of Acts, Luke writes about Paul’s sudden conversion to Christianity, that Jesus himself appeared before Paul and asked him to please change his ways. Paul was struck blind for three days, during which time he fasted and prayed continually.

When his sight was restored, he began to tell others what had happened. Those who knew Paul couldn’t believe that he would contradict his own deeply held Jewish beliefs to praise the God of the Christians. 

For the next twenty years, Paul was shunned, threatened, and arrested while completing three missionary journeys. As he traveled through modern-day Europe, he established new Christian churches and encouraged people from every level of society to accept each other’s differences and to worship God in a spirit of love and humility.

His Place in History

Paul’s missionary work influenced the emerging religion of Christianity and he is credited for much of the New Testament writings. Scholars agree that he authored the book of Romans, and that 13 of the epistles were letters that he wrote personally, or that were written in his name, and then circulated among Christian churches. In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke records much about Paul’s travels, and the book concludes as Paul is in Rome awaiting trial.

According to history, Paul spent his final years suffering from the cold and discomfort of prison, yet he never stopped preaching about the loving, forgiving God of Christianity.

Scholars believe that he was probably beheaded in Rome under the rule of Emperor Nero.