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Wednesday Morning News

It’s hump day already. Let’s have a look at a bit of the news.

Though it’s hump day, you may not necessarily want to take that literally. Apparently Gonorrhea may become a superbug:

Catherine Ison, a specialist on gonorrhea from Britain’s Health Protection Agency said a World Health Organization (WHO) meeting in Manila next week would be vital to efforts to try to stop the bug repeatedly adapting to and overcoming drugs.

“This is a very clever bacteria. If this problem isn’t addressed, there is a real possibility that gonorrhea will become a very difficult infection to treat,” she said in a telephone interview.

Gonorrhea is a common bacterial sexually-transmitted infection and if left untreated can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility in women.

Globally, the WHO estimates that there are at least 340 million new cases of curable sexually transmitted infections — including syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis — every year among people aged 15 to 49.

Ison said the highest incidences of gonorrhea were in south and southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, but as yet the WHO has no breakdown by individual infection type.

Yikes. But let’s continue to have abstinence only sex ed in some quarters because, you know, what could possibly go wrong.

The guy that came up with the Gaia Hypothesis, James Lovelock, says we should dump democracy in order to save ourselves from a climate change catastrophe:

Humans are too stupid to prevent climate change from radically impacting on our lives over the coming decades. This is the stark conclusion of James Lovelock, the globally respected environmental thinker and independent scientist who developed the Gaia theory.

It follows a tumultuous few months in which public opinion on efforts to tackle climate change has been undermined by events such as the climate scientists’ emails leaked from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the failure of the Copenhagen climate summit.

“I don’t think we’re yet evolved to the point where we’re clever enough to handle a complex a situation as climate change,” said Lovelock in his first in-depth interview since the theft of the UEA emails last November. “The inertia of humans is so huge that you can’t really do anything meaningful.”

One of the main obstructions to meaningful action is “modern democracy”, he added. “Even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.”

Lovelock, 90, believes the world’s best hope is to invest in adaptation measures, such as building sea defences around the cities that are most vulnerable to sea-level rises. He thinks only a catastrophic event would now persuade humanity to take the threat of climate change seriously enough, such as the collapse of a giant glacier in Antarctica, such as the Pine Island glacier, which would immediately push up sea level.

Um, what democracy? If there is a place where they actually count your votes for these election thingys, I’d like to know. He’s got a point about people not making changes very easily. But then I’d say having leaders, and by that of course I mean corporations, who’s own self interest precludes such things, whether you have a pretend democracy or a dictatorship, the results will be the same since the very same oligarchy would be in charge either way. A large disaster like he says is the only thing that will do it. I personally think it’s too late, so who cares. Go out and party like it’s 2012!

USDOT is bringing in NASA scientists to help with the Toyota acceleration investigation:

The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today said it was doing just by bringing in NASA engineers with expertise in areas such as computer controlled electronic systems, electromagnetic interference and software integrity to help tackle the issue of unintended vehicle acceleration in Toyotas.  The NHTSA review of the electronic throttle control systems in Toyotas is to be completed by late summer.

The DOT said engineers from the National Academy of Sciences – an independent body of scientific experts – will also look into the overarching subject of unintended acceleration and electronic vehicle controls across the entire automotive industry.

For NASA, the space agency’s engineers will focus on technology such as electromagnetic compatibility as part of a shorter-term review of the systems used in Toyota vehicles to determine whether they contain any possible flaws that would warrant a defect investigation, the DOT stated.

NASA’s expertise in electronics, hardware, software, hazard analysis and complex problem solving ensures this review will be comprehensive.  Currently there are nine experts from NASA assisting NHTSA, and additional personnel will join the team if needed, the DOT stated.

“We are determined to get to the bottom of unintended acceleration,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement.  “For the safety of the American driving public, we must do everything possible to understand what is happening. And that is why we are tapping the best minds around.”

It’s not unusual for NASA to get involved in such investigations.  Previous technology examinations involved electronic stability control and airbags.

And here we have it, it’s all the fault of magnets. I knew it wasn’t me. Apparently magnets can mess with your sense of morality according to a recent study:

Magnets can alter a person’s sense of morality, according to a new report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Using a powerful magnetic field, scientists from MIT, Harvard University and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center are able to scramble the moral center of the brain, making it more difficult for people to separate innocent intentions from harmful outcomes. The research could have big implications for not only neuroscientists, but also for judges and juries.

“It’s one thing to ‘know’ that we’ll find morality in the brain,” said Liane Young, a scientist at MIT and co-author of the article. “It’s another to ‘knock out’ that brain area and change people’s moral judgments.”

Of course that can only mean one thing. Soon in court cases around the country, we’ll be seeing… the “magnet defense.”

While we’re looking at Discovery, here’s a nice find. A written language has been discovered of ancient Scotland:

The ancestors of modern Scottish people left behind mysterious, carved stones that new research has just determined contain the written language of the Picts, an Iron Age society that existed in Scotland from 300 to 843.

The highly stylized rock engravings, found on what are known as the Pictish Stones, had once been thought to be rock art or tied to heraldry. The new study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A, instead concludes that the engravings represent the long lost language of the Picts, a confederation of Celtic tribes that lived in modern-day eastern and northern Scotland.

“We know that the Picts had a spoken language to complement the writing of the symbols, as Bede (a monk and historian who died in 735) writes that there are four languages in Britain in this time: British, Pictish, Scottish and English,” lead author Rob Lee told Discovery News.

Although Lee and his team have not yet deciphered the Pictish language, some of the symbols provide intriguing clues. One symbol looks like a dog’s head, for example, while others look like horses, trumpets, mirrors, combs, stags, weapons and crosses.

The later Pictish Stones also contain images, like Celtic knots, similar to those found in the Book of Kells and other early works from nearby regions. These more decorative looking images frame what Lee and his team believe is the written Pictish language.

“It is unclear at the moment whether the imagery, such as the knots, form any part of the communication,” Lee said. He believes the stones also contain semasiographic symbols, such as a picture of riders and horn blowers next to hunting dogs on what is called the Hilton of Cadboll stone. Yet another stone shows what appears to be a battle scene.

Drill baby drill!! Obama’s going to push for more drilling for oil in Alaska among other places:

President Barack Obama today will announce a compromise to broadly open new areas off the U.S. coast to oil and natural gas drilling while protecting specific swaths, including Alaska’s Bristol Bay.

The plan, to be announced at a late morning energy security event at Andrews Air Force Base may help Obama court bipartisan support for contentious climate change legislation but also could chafe environmental activists in states affected by expanded drilling.

A White House aide describing the details ahead of the announcement said that an upcoming Interior Department lease sale 50 miles off the Virginia coast would mark the first new offshore oil and gas sale in the Atlantic in more than two decades.

Drilling off the coast from the mid-Atlantic to the Southeast could be broadly expanded, pending further study. Drilling off the Florida coast would be subject to a minimum 125 mile distance. A previously scheduled lease sale in Alaska‚s Cook Inlet could go ahead, but Bristol Bay and pending lease sales in the Chuckchi and Beaufort Seas, in North Alaska, will be canceled. No West Coast exploration is being announced.

“To set America on a path to energy independence, the President believes we must leverage our diverse domestic resources by pursuing a comprehensive energy strategy,” said the aide who was not authorized to speak on the record ahead of the president’s announcement.

Bill Clinton to co-chair committee overseeing funds to Haiti:

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton will co-chair a committee overseeing at least $3.8 billion in post-quake aid to Haiti, the ravaged country’s prime minister said.

The announcement was made ahead of a critical donors conference Wednesday at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Haitian officials will ask representatives from more than 130 countries for reconstruction help at the meeting chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former president’s wife, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

A senior U.S. official said the Obama administration would pledge $1.15 billion over the next two years to rebuilding Haiti. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Hillary Clinton would announce the pledge at the conference later Wednesday.

Some serious rumbling is happening in the gene business world after a ruling throwing out a gene patent:

Many biotechnology stocks fell on Tuesday as investors struggled to understand the impact of a ruling that threw out parts of two gene patents and called into question thousands more.

Stock market losses were muted, with two major indexes that track the shares of the industry falling by less than 1 percent each. In part, that was because biotechnology executives hastened to reassure their investors that the ruling would not necessarily undermine their businesses, at least in the short run.

But the executives themselves were struggling on Tuesday to figure out what the long-term impact would be. Biotech companies spend billions every year trying to develop new tests and treatments based partly on genes they have isolated and patented.

Those are a few things rattling around in the news today. Chime in with anything you’re finding to day. Or just whatever is on your mind.

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88 Responses

  1. Lord, remind me again why Obama was supposed to be so much better than McCain? I can’t believe after he gave the Japanese the thumbs up on whaling he’s going to drill baby drill! Talk about your corporate tools! I heard this on NPR and nearly drove into Pontchartrain I was so shocked! It’s like he’s finishing the Bush playbook!

    • I know. Just waiting for the pretzel twisting the obot-apologists are going to have to go through for this one.

      • Lord, he’s worse than Nixon! Nixon signed the Clean Air Act in 1970. WTF?

        • Compared to many presidents we’ve had since, Nixon was actually pretty liberal, at least in some areas. Of course he was nuts.

          • What’s next, legal hunting of Spotted Owls?

          • I’d laugh, but that wouldn’t really be that surprising.

          • Nixon had actual Dems to contend with and actual moderate GOP as well…Also the quaint idea there had to be actual governing some where in the mix was still in place…plus I believe Lake Eire caught on fire around then….but they were content to steal while also giving something back and so we could lurch along…Things have evolved now to the point where this crowd just steals . End of Empire…the stealing come ever closer to home.

          • Good points. I think Watergate was actually the thing that brought an end to governing for the GOP and instead put them on a path of campaign first and foremost and of course revenge. I think we’ve now entered a new era where the Dems are on the same path. Ain’t it grand.

          • DandyTiger, on March 31, 2010 at 10:38 am
            Well said. Looking back today, one of the amazing things about Watergate is how they admitted to thier criminal acts! To the oligarchy that was their true , never to be repeated crime/mistake.

          • Yup. Definite turning point. They got their ducks in a row and made sure none of their puppets got out of line again.

          • the thought of Ken Salazar at the Dept of Interior has
            been bothering me for a year now. What’s next?

        • This should be an embarrassment to any Dem politicians today (from wikipedia):

          Noam Chomsky remarked that, in many respects, Nixon was “the last liberal president.” Indeed, Nixon believed in using government wisely to benefit all and supported the idea of practical liberalism.

          Nixon initiated the Environmental Decade by signing the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act amendments of 1972, as well as establishing many government agencies. These included the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Council on Environmental Quality. The Clean Air Act was noted as one of the most significant pieces of environmental legislation ever signed.

          …However, despite speeches declaring an opposition to the idea, he decided to offer Congress a budget with deficit spending to reduce unemployment and declared, “Now I am a Keynesian.”

          He reorganized the Post Office Department from a cabinet department to a government-owned corporation: the U.S. Postal Service.

          Nixon cut billions of dollars in federal spending and expanded the power of the Office of Management and Budget. He established the Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1972 and supported the Legacy of parks program, which transferred ownership of federally owned land to the states, resulting in the establishment of state parks and beaches, recreational areas, and environmental education centers.

          Nixon, a Quaker, felt that racism was the greatest moral failure of the United States and concentrated on the principle that the law must be color-blind: “I am convinced that while legal segregation is totally wrong, forced integration of housing or education is just as wrong.”

          • The Sierra Club says Nixon vetoed the Clean Water Act, and Congress overrode the veto.

            http://www.sierraclub.org/planet/199710/time1.asp

          • And here’s William Ruckelshaus’s take on what Nixon thought about environmentalism:

            Nixon thought the environmental movement was part of the same political strain as the anti-war movement; both reflected weaknesses in the American character. He tied the threads together. During the 1960s, when the Vietnam War protests were so powerful and so dominated his thinking, he observed that some of the same people involved in the environmental movement were also associated with the anti-war movement. So he tended to lump all of them together.

            He created EPA for much the same reason Reagan invited me to return to the agency in 1983: because of public outrage about what was happening to the environment. Not because Nixon shared that concern, but because he didn’t have any choice.

            http://www.epa.gov/history/publications/ruck/07.htm

          • Those points all sound right. But I think the overall point is that he still governed. He oversaw those things. When there was pressure or movements, he responded. Those things still happened under his watch. I’m not sure under the same circumstances that Bush or OBush wouldn’t do the same.

          • Yes, he did what he had to do, for political reasons, as Ruckelshaus says.

            I know he did some good things. But sometimes it seems he gets more credit for than he deserves for signing onto things he actually opposed.

            As to Obama and the drilling, I think he’s trying to put the Republicans into the position of either signing on with him, or opposing their own policies. It’s a political move. The energy benefits are so negligible (three years of oil and two of natural gas?) that there’s no real point to it.

          • Yes, it may be an interesting political move. But it goes against what he campaigned for and against what all the followers believed. Yet again. And so it’s particularly funny in that context. And the twisting the apologists will have to do now will be interesting.

    • Indeed, is there ONE GOP environment wet dream Obama hasn’t fulfilled?

    • I hope BO is finally overreaching. It’s one thing when he throws the poor, the old, and the wimmenz under the bus, but now he’s slapped the environmentalists publicly. And some of them can be as batshit militant as the the wingers.

      • There’s some money there too. And environmentalism is as new-coalition as it is old-coalition.

  2. Thanks for the round up! That guy who says we have to dump democracy…(like you say, Um, what democracy?) He somehow has the crazy idea that its replacement would respond better to the challenge and actually address it….he’s gotta get out of the lab more! As you say the oligarchy would be in charge whatever it’s called…and really while the term democracy seems to become less manful every election, to dump it completely means we even lose the concept…..that would be a mistake. Haven’t we learned you don’t get saved by giving up freedoms?It’s because we have fewer and fewer that we are in such trouble. The oligarchy is whipping us where we “stupid” masses don’t want to go, that’s why elections today are so super cooked. We “stupid “masses aren’t the problem. Also when I read someone wants to force ” stupid “humans, to do something however noble their intentions are, I can’t help but think of the saying ” the road to hell is paved with good intentions” …that’s got animal farm / lord of the files double feature written all over it. Your finally advice, to go out and party like it’s 2012, while somewhat joking , is good. We should take time out to enjoy ourselves as we nose dive! lol!

    • Agree. Literature is full of stories of people handing over their power to what they think is a benevolent authority for what they think is for their own good. Somehow it never seems to work out for them.

    • oops

      and really while the term democracy seems to become less manful every election, to dump it completely means we even lose the concept

      I meant less meanful there . The elections are becoming more manful! /snark… as in the savaging female canadates.

  3. What a great selection of news.

    I would say that about the last thing the environment needs is a climate change guru advocating dumping democracy.

    Whatever the merits, this will give fodder to the deniers, just as much as the leaked e mails did.

  4. Thanks for the news of finding the written language of ancient Scotland! Cool!

    • You’re welcome. Aye, I thought that was cool too. Just think, when they were in skirts throwing telephone polls, they were writing about it too. :-)

      • Linguists have assumed (and yes, we all know where assumptions get us) that Pictish was a Brythonic Celtic language, i.e., closely related to Welsh and Gaulish rather than Irish and later Scots Gaelic. If that’s true, they ought to be able to make some headway with the Pictish stones even without a dual-language key. I’m going to go out on a limb and make a guess, from the number and nature of the symbols, that the Pictish writing used a syllabary rather than an alphabet. If that turns out right, you heard it first on TC.

        Otherwise, way cool. The white half of my family goes back to Angus Shire in the heart of Pictland. At least, that’s where a whole generation of male ancestors was deported from after the ’45.

        • That will indeed be something way cool to watch for. I quite like ancient history and language evolutionary work like this. The story of that region with the Picts, or the painted or tattooed people, is quite intriguing. I like how even the term Caledonians seems to derive from “hard/tough people.” Grrrr.

    • Ditto on the thank you.

      When various groups of fundamentalists, evangelicals, pentecostals and JeHo Witness come to my door I always smile and tell them I am a “Charismatic Pict”. (Sometimes a Charismatic Druid)

      Then I watch as they go to the end of my driveway and call someone on their cells to try and figure out what it means and if they can figure out a way to re-approach. They never bother to come back.

      • This is in the wrong place – I meant to respond to Dandy Tiger. Sorry and thank you again.

      • When they came to my sister’s house, she smiled and said that she didn’t speak English. And, when they asked if she was sure, she said “Yes”. They left, not quite knowing what to say.

      • You’re welcome of course too. I love that approach. I think I’ll use that next time. Usually I just laugh and point. That can work too.

  5. Obama’s going to push for more drilling

    How long until the Rightwing starts hating and being against “Drill, baby drill” with passion while “Progressives” become fierce advocates.

    We’re livivng in the twilight zone.

    • I agree. Ever since the bizarre world flipping of Dems supporting RomeyCare and Repubs being against it, my head hasn’t stopped spinning. I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if that flip happens too.

      • It’s kapukui theater…the GOP is not against RomeyCare…any more than the 06 Dems were against the illegal enduring war. They will however, like the 06 Dems , ride the unpopularity of the results of these bills / events, as a means back to power …..and nothing chances for the better regardless of which upper crust cabana boy party is in … but you know all that

    • No, what they’ll say will be “Our “drill baby drill” is state based and market ruled” Obama’s is “one size fits all” and government controlled! Obama is a socialist!”
      Which proves the fallacy of trying to out-rhetoric the RW.

      • I think you may have it. Do you have a crystal ball or something?

      • The real test will be who will insist on a severance tax—tax on the severance of a public resource and who will get the tax. People do not give Palin any credit for the fact that she increased the severance tax to oil companies in Alaska and gave the increased revenue to the people of Alaska. Now that is some socialism that I can believe in.

  6. I made a quick scan of the sippy-kup blogs and they’re pretty quiet about “Drill baby, drill!”

    I guess they’re waiting for their OFA talking points.

    • Melissa at Shakesville had the funniest reaction:

      I’m so excited I just bipartisaned in my pants!

    • Sadly, they probably are. I seem to remember in other similar situations all was quiet until they all stormed with almost exactly the same language and arguments. Funny that. We’ll see what they come up with this time.

      • They forget about it as there always a new outrage
        to absorb …plus, for example, many obots think Gitmo is actually closed…because the One said he would do that…the media is not informing them other wise….and they, as a group, never had strong research skills /snark .

    • I looked over at Matt Y’s. It was a combination of the 11th dimensional chess move and the we don’t have enough information about this yet, the NYT probably got it all wrong, the right info will be forthcoming. I thought, yeah, right with that next dose of koolaide

      • pathetic ain’t it??

      • New york times was just saying what obama did on tevee Wonder how the bots and MSNBC will spin this one ……………….maybe this was part of the secret Cheny deal obama signed before inaguration?

    • I guess they’re waiting for their OFA talking points….

      Indeed…plus it’s only bad when Palin says it…that’s her role in the shadow play. The sippy-kup blogs don’t give a rat’s ass about the evolvement or the caribou…only the One…that’s what cuts the checks. The caribou have no lobbyists

    • Someone remind me again why Al Gore, the supposedly great environmentalist, decided to support Obama over Hillary? I thought he and Bill C. had patched up their differences by then.

    • I like this commenter at FDL.

      This is another balloon floating expedition.

      I expect this to go similar to the public option ones floated during the debate…In other words, drill baby drill, just not until Obama’s got the 12th board going in his chess game.

      • Someone once said that Obama’s greatest gift isn’t that when he lies his followers believe him, it’s that when he tells the truth they don’t.

  7. Drill: Um, ‘we’ voted for Obama because Palin wanted to drain Alaska and put every woman in burkas…..

    WTF??????????

  8. Yes because teaching kids to close their legs will cause them to get STI’s. Having NO sex is the only sure way to prevent infection.

    • I tried teaching my dog abstinence. All I got was puppies.

    • A lot of kids today believe that anal sex is NOT having sex. An STI infection affects the same no matter the orifice. So your conclusion is so off the mark.

    • Why am I seeing all these nuts falling from the sky. Oh, no it’s just the comment. Whew.

    • You can jealously guard your virginity until marriage…and wind up married to disease-mongering philanderer.

      Never any guarantees.

  9. I guess Al Gore will have to step aside. The Nobel Enviromental Award will have to be given to Obama.

  10. I’m tweeting links to news stories of interest to feminists and the feminist-minded here:

    http://twitter.com/femnews

      • I was cluttering up my Facebook page with this stuff. Decided to channel my reposting energies.

    • Thanks, interesting links. I especially liked this politician’s stance on maternal health care. ;-) Especially in light of what’s not covered in the recent “historic” health insurance bailout bill.

      Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is seeking to make maternal health the centrepiece of the G8 summit he is hosting in Ontario in June, was initially reluctant to include contraception as part of the agenda, and he has insisted the plan would leave out abortion.

      But the U.S. Secretary of State was blunt in her disagreement with this approach yesterday.

      “You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health,” Ms. Clinton said at a news conference after a meeting of G8 foreign ministers in Gatineau, Que. “And reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion.

      http://m.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/clintons-tough-diplomacy-stings-ottawa/article1517805/?service=mobile

      What could have been….

  11. OT-You guys may have seen this already. Fox strikes again.

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/satire/freeze.asp

  12. So, is it possible Obama travels around with magnets in his pocket and that’s why he doesn’t know right from wrong or a LIE from the truth?

    Are Obama’s brains scrambled by magnets?

  13. Okay, I have to mention this: today I saw a car with a bumper sticker saying “Palin 2012″. Seriously. Is there some group that is already pushing her to run in 2012 and is already out selling bumper stickers?

  14. Ok. I am going to let you in on the 11 levels of 2012 campaign preparations. 0′s drill baby drill is his opening move in clearing the boards and setting the pieces to select Palin as his VP for 2012. She will be able to lead bi-partisan outreach and continue Biden’s folksy mannerisms.

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