SDB Evening News Reads for 090911: Fetal Pain, Superinsects and Jobs, so easy a caveman can do it?

Good Afternoon!

The ripples from the Obama “American Jobs Act” speech are still radiating out from DC…I am going to refrain from posting links on anything related to it, and catch you all up on some of the news items that are being overlooked. Dak has a great summary of the Job Act’s details over here: The Devil in the Job Act Details « Sky Dancing

One thing,  I have to get this out of my system:

Job Creation…uh…huh…huh…huh… speech…huh…huh…

(And btw, that was my attempt at laughing like Butthead, at the notion of “job creation” and the term “speech.”)

Okay, have y’all heard that Human Rights is trying to brand itself with a new logo? A New Human Rights Logo, Brought to You By Qaddafi’s PR Firm | Mother Jones

Maybe the idea of universal human rights would catch on if it had a memorable emblem. That’s the idea behind the Logo For Human Rights project, which is currently holding a competition to crowdsource a logo that it hopes, as the promotional email that landed in my inbox yesterday explains, “will become as iconic as the peace sign and serve to advance the global spread and implementation of human rights.”

Sounds like a good idea right? Well, check out what PR firm is handling the publicity:

…the PR firm that contacted me to publicize the event is Brown Lloyd James, which is also in the business of rebranding governments that couldn’t care less about that shiny new logo.

According to records filed with the Department of Justice, in November 2010 the strategic communications agency landed a $5,000-a-month contract in which it “liased” between Syrian First Lady Asma al-Assad and Vogue. The resulting glowing profile (since yanked from the Vogue website) described her as “glamorous, young, and very chic—the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies…a thin, long-limbed beauty with a trained analytic mind who dresses with cunning understatement.” Syria, it claimed, was “the safest country in the Middle East.”

In 2008, Brown Lloyd James signed a contract with a Libyan oil-drilling magnate to help Colonel Muammar Qaddafi clean up his international image. To that end, the firm assisted with an op-ed in his name and “reached out to newspaper editors to discuss placement and proposed edits.” It also helped set up speeches for him at the United Nations and Georgetown University. (However, BLJ noted in its federal filings that it “did not advise on the content or delivery of these speeches.” Highlights of his rambling UN speech included sticking up for the Taliban and suggesting that swine flu was man-made.) The firm reported that the Libyan Mission to the UN reimbursed it more than $1.2 million for “logistical support.” In England, BLJ promoted Qaddafi as “a fascinating contemporary world figure” and arranged for him to give a video address at the London School of Economics.

The agency was one of a handful of PR shops that represented Qaddafi and his family, as Mother Jones has reported. Defending his firm’s choice of clients, BLJ partner Sir Nicholas Lloyd told PR Week UK, “At the time, Libya was recognised by British and American governments. They all did business with Gaddafi.”

Here is the email response the MoJo journalist got when he asked for a statement from the BLJ PR firm:

Working to advance the rights of all is a positive moral value and business practice. It is something we have done for years on behalf of a host of groups and individuals. Whether it was encouraging a better understanding of the groundbreaking role of Al Jazeera in the Arab world, establishing United Nations-recognized days in support of autism and the plight of widows, or supporting the first ever visit of Human Rights Watch to Libya, advancing social progress is at the core of our work. This is why we proudly support the first ever Human Rights Logo, which will create a common language for people around the world to communicate on this important global issue..

I am sorry, but this kind of stuff makes me laugh.  To think that the Human Rights Org didn’t know about their PR firm’s connections to clients who commit the kind of atrocities their organization is against…how ridiculous is that?

Anyway, here is an update to the article reported this morning.  MoJo got this tweet from Human Rights Logo:

“@MotherJones thanks for pointing this out! BLJ helped announce NY event,they’re not part of the initiative. There’ll be no further cooperation.”

Geez, you would think that the Human Rights people would be interested in keeping up with the type of “rights” its PR firm supports…damn!

Speaking of Libya, Clinton is getting some Kudos from Bloomberg: Hillary Clinton Deserves Credit for U.S. Role in Libya: View – Bloomberg

The unsung hero of the Libya drama in the U.S. is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clinton’s actions were critical for several reasons. Most important, she overcame Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s caution about using military force in Libya and his reluctance to support an operation led by France and Britain. Clinton also personally managed the unorthodox partnership with French President Nicolas Sarkozy that proved so crucial to joint action to defeat the Qaddafi regime.

Despite the unusual arrangement in which the U.S. was a supporter rather than a leader of NATO’s military operation, she defended intervention before a skeptical Congress and performed the hard slog of daily diplomacy around the world, helping Arab countries, the Europeans and the U.S. work together with a minimum of friction and a maximum of determination.

The op/ed goes on to say:

Based on our discussions with administration officials, as well as the public record, some preliminary conclusions about the decision are possible. First, while we argued for a more active U.S. military role in NATO’s operation, it is now clear that Obama’s unprecedented approach — in which Washington supported, rather than led, a NATO operation — was successful in the end.

Second, by breaking with Gates, Clinton tipped the balance within the administration in favor of action. Without her strong argument to support the Europeans’ call for American help, Washington probably would not have acted. The president’s national security adviser, Tom Donilon, was declaring freedom in Libya to be outside the U.S. national interest, and both military and civilian officials in the Pentagon were reluctant to endorse or even opposed U.S. intervention. But Clinton’s push for the U.S. to act in support of Britain and France appears to have been decisive.

In other Clinton news…we knew it was a long shot… that Clinton would take Darth Vader’s suggestion that she challenge Obama.  Clinton: ‘Below zero’ chance at challenging Obama – CNN Political Ticker – CNN.com Blogs

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says there is a “below zero” chance that she will challenge President Barack Obama for the presidency in 2012.

Hillary says she is happy where she is at…and that she is not going to be brought back into politics by anybody.  (que the Vader heavy breathing soundtrack)

“One of the great things about being Secretary of State is I am out of politics,” Clinton said. “I have a big job to do and I am honored to do it everyday.”

When Kosik asked if she would ever get back into politics, Clinton said she had the same feelings.

“I don’t think so. I think I am going to stay focused on doing what I can to make sure that we continue to lead the world,” Clinton said.

There is a new study out that supports what pro-choice people have said about the PLUB fetal pain stance…proving that the PLUB position about fetuses feeling pain at 20 weeks is bullshit! Preemies Feel Pain at 37 Weeks Gestation, Says Study – ABC News

Preemies begin to feel pain around a woman’s 35th week of pregnancy, about two to four weeks before delivery, according to a new study from University College London.

Using EEG, researchers recorded the babies’ brain activity in response to pain, comparing their pain responses from a touch and prick on the heels. The findings were published in the journal Current Biology.

“Babies can distinguish painful stimuli as different from general touch from around 35 to 37 weeks gestation — just before an infant would normally be born,” Lorenzo Fabrizi, lead author of the study, said in a statement.

The babies, who were 28 to 35 weeks in the womb, showed the same bursts of brain activity for the touch and the heel lance, but babies at more than 35 weeks’ gestation had a greater burst of activity in response to the lance than the simple touch. The findings may explain why babies born prematurely have an abnormal sense of pain, the authors noted, and the findings could potentially affect treatment and care of preemies.

This is science, not some PLUB looking at a video of a fetus “crying” in pain during an abortion.

Over the past six years, six states have enacted fetal pain abortion bans in which it is illegal to perform an abortion after 20 weeks. Many anti-abortion rights activists argue that fetuses can feel pain in the womb after 20 weeks of development.

“The findings … should help inform the pain perception portion of the abortion debate,” said Dr. F. Sessions Cole, director of the division of newborn medicine at Washington University School of Medicine at St. Louis. “Although this study specifically addresses brain wave differences between premature and term infants, not fetuses, after [receiving] painful and tactile stimuli, it suggests that brain maturation required for fetal pain perception occurs in late pregnancy, more than 11 weeks after the legal limit for abortion in the United States.

Of course, I doubt this study will do anything to change the PLUB mindset.  In fact, there is a lawsuit going on now in North Carolina which questions the fairness of those “choose life” PLUB car license plates…The Abortion Debate, Coming to a Bumper Near You | Mother Jones

Anti-abortion lawmakers in North Carolina have passed a bill allowing the state to issue license plates with a pro-life slogan. Drivers can buy the “Choose Life” plate for a $25 fee, and $15 of that will go to so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” that seek to deter women from having an abortion. Now the state chapter of the ACLU has filed suit, arguing that the state is violating the First Amendment by not offering plates that include a message in support of abortion rights.

Is it me…or does this license plate look like it is suggesting a Chinese girl as one of the images for choosing life?  I mean, they already have the black fetuses covered with the little boy image, are they going for the Chinese girl fetuses with those slanted eyes and yellow color skin? WTF?

I really don’t care if there are license plates touting anti-alien abduction relief or pro-alien anal probe alertness, but if you got one side of the pro-life/pro-choice controversy getting special licenses, then you need to have it open to all…and let people have their pro-choice plates if they want.

MoJo has also been having a series about Monsanto on its blog written by Tom Philpott.  Here is the latest offering…Monsanto Superinsects Eating Your Corn? Diversify! | Mother Jones

Yesterday I showed that Monsanto’s formidable Bt corn empire, whose domain extends to about 65 percent of corn grown in the United States, appears to be on the verge of being brought to its knees by a humble insect called the corn rootworm. Make that the Bt-resistant corn rootworm.

What to do about it?

One approach, of course, is to do what Monsanto did about its other festering resistance problem: weeds resistant to its flagship herbicide, Roundup. Bill Freese, science policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety, points out that—similar to Bt-resistant rootworms today—Roundup-resistant “supwerweeds” first appeared in isolated fields in the early 2000s, and Monsanto’s first reaction was to deny the problem existed. Yet Roundup resistance soon exploded, and now affects a stunning 11 million acres—and growing—nationwide.

If you have not read any of these post that Philpott is writing, get over to MoJo and read them.

Today, Monsanto deigns to acknowledge the problem—and claims it has the solution: It will engineer crops that can withstand multiple powerful herbicides. This approach could be described as “ignore the problem, let it careen out of control, then dramatically escalate the response with profitable and questionable new technologies.”

There seems to be a new R&D over at Monsanto that Philpott describes as:

…a new genetic technology called RNA interference to, “among other things, make crops deadly for insects to eat.” In other words, “forget that our current technology is failing—look at this wonderful technology that beckons!”

In other science news, that fossil found by a little boy in South Africa may be the missing link…New Fossils May Redraw Human Ancestry – NYTimes.com

Alexander Joe/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Lee Berger with his son, Matthew, and fossils of Australopithecus sediba. Matthew found one of the fossils while chasing his dog.

The discoverer of the fossils, Lee Berger of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, says the new species, known as Australopithecus sediba, is the most plausible known ancestor of archaic and modern humans. Several other paleoanthropologists, while disagreeing with that interpretation, say the fossils are of great importance anyway, because they elucidate the mix-and-match process by which human evolution was shaped.

Jon Hrusa/European Pressphoto Agency

Dr. Berger held a cast of the hand of the fossilized skeleton, with human and ape features, in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Dr. Berger’s claim, if accepted, would radically redraw the present version of the human family tree, placing the new fossils in the center. The new species, in his view, should dislodge Homo habilis, the famous tool-making fossil found by Louis and Mary Leakey, as the most likely bridge between the australopithecenes and the human lineage. Australopithecenes were apelike creatures that walked upright, like people, but had still not forsaken the trees.

I wonder…what would Perry con Galileo Pasta Primavera think of this kind of “science?”

Caveman from 2m years ago may be missing link – Telegraph

Australopithecus sediba, whose remains were discovered in a South African cave in 2009, had a long thumb and relatively short fingers like modern man, and a brain shaped more like that of a human than a chimpanzee.

While it had modern-looking ankles, its heel and shin bones were mostly ape-like. Scientists believe the creature walked upright, but not in the same way as people today.

Until now it was believed that our earliest identifiable ancestors were Homo habilis or Homo rudolfensis, fossils found in East Africa. But the newly discovered creature, described in five papers in the journal Science today, is several hundred thousand years older.

Prof Lee Berger, from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, said: “The many very advanced features found in the brain and body, and the earlier date, make it possibly the best candidate ancestor for our genus, the genus Homo.” The caves of Malapa, where the fossils were discovered, lie nearly 30 miles north-west of Johannesburg.

Evidence left by the Earth’s magnetic field at the time the creatures died allowed scientists to date the remains accurately to 1.977 million years old.

Yeah, get that…1.9777 million (pinky finger up to corner of mouth) years old!

Let’s have a commercial produced for the unemployed American People that uses Geico’s  famous Caveman advertisement as inspiration.

Jobs…so easy an Australopithecus sediba can do it!

I don’t know, but I am pretty sure the Australopithecus sediba would be able to come up with a plan that would actually work.  What do you all think?

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10 Comments on “SDB Evening News Reads for 090911: Fetal Pain, Superinsects and Jobs, so easy a caveman can do it?”

  1. jawbone says:

    Nice change of pace, and the archeology/geneology (sorta, right?) story is fascinating. Thanks for posting on it.

  2. madamab says:

    Awesome post, Minx! Cool missing link news, especially.

  3. jawbone says:

    I just read the Philbott articles on Monsanto’s Round-Up Ready corn situation.

    Increasing corn diversity might help farmers through the insects- eating-their-livelihood problem while Monsanto is created even more complex insecticide-ready corn seed, but, amazingly, many farmers are not able to get non-Monsanto seed corn. (Can you say “monopoly,” Pres. Slushie?)

    What is heaven’s name would happen to us should there be some catastrophe affecting Monsanto? Might well get out farmers out of industrial farming and get the nation off High Fructose Corn Syrup….

    Well worth reading both articles by Philbott on Monsanto.

    • jawbone says:

      I knew I should have checked the spelling: Philpott is what came to me first, and I figured I’d remembered incorrectly. PhilPott, Tom Philpott.

  4. Minkoff Minx says:

    Glad you all like the missing link…links. The thing that got me was the image of the hand. It does really look like a human hand.

    What do you all think about those car tags? Am I just being over sensitive?

    There’s been an earthquake just off the coast near Vancouver: Quake off Vancouver, no damage reported | Reuters

    A magnitude 6.4 quake struck off Vancouver Island on Friday, some 175 miles northwest of Vancouver on Canada’s Pacific coast, but no damage was reported in the city, eyewitnesses said.

  5. Minkoff Minx says:

    I want to remind you all that there is a special tomorrow night on the toxic chemicals that were found in the dust from the WTC in New York.

    ‘Terror in the dust:’ Toxins from Twin Towers believed to be killing first responders – American Morning – CNN.com Blogs

    You can see the full investigation of the heath fallout from 9/11 and rare, never-before seen footage in Dr. Gupta’s documentary, “Terror in the Dust” – airing 9/7 at 11pm and 9/10 at 9pm ET.

    Why it is being first shown at 11pm Eastern is beyond me….you would think something like this would be important enough for those on the east coast, that it would be scheduled during prime time.

  6. Minkoff Minx says:

    One more link: Georgia McDonald’s Toxic Fumes a Deadly Mystery – ABC News

    The mysterious fumes that killed one person and sickened nine others inside a McDonald’s restroom this week may have brought the most unwanted publicity to the city of Pooler, Ga., since Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman set up Union headquarters there before negotiating the peaceful surrender of Savannah in December 1864.

    Local fire officials remained stumped Friday about what toxic chemical or chemical mixture knocked two women unconscious Wednesday at the fast-food restaurant in their east Georgia city of about 19,000.
    […]
    Among other confounding aspects of the case, he said, was how quickly the gas disappeared. “It was there, and then it was gone in the next hour to hour and a half we were doing things at the scene,” he said.

    By the time a Savannah hazardous materials analyzed air samples from the restroom, they found nothing detectable.

  7. Minkoff Minx says:

    Hey, Planned Parenthood in New Hampshire is getting some assistance from Feds: Feds to fund N.H. family planning after state council refuses | Reuters

    The federal government has committed to taking over family planning services for poor women in much of New Hampshire, in a move that may allow Planned Parenthood to resume providing a full range of care including birth control, a state official said.

    Planned Parenthood clinics had previously provided family planning services to more than half the state before a Republican state council voted to end a $1.8 million contract because the women’s health group also offers abortions.

    Nicholas Toumpas, New Hampshire’s health and human services commissioner, said the federal government took the decision after he alerted Washington that the state was violating federal rules requiring family planning services be provided statewide.
    […]
    The federal government’s decision to pay directly for poor women’s pelvic exams, birth control pills and antibiotics in New Hampshire angered abortion foes.

    “Money is fungible,” said Ciara Matthews, a Washington, D.C.-based spokeswoman for the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group. “What it does is open up other funds to be used for abortion.”

    • madamab says:

      Susan B. Anthony would be horrified that these pro-death crazoids are using her name to prevent women from getting health care. A pox on them!

      The license plate thing bugs me too. Seems like a violation of the First Amendment to me.