Pelosi Calls Stupak's Bluff on Abortion
Anti-choice zealot Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich) overplayed his hand. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced today that the House Democrats will move forward without a deal on abortion coverage.
Why are they finally telling Stupak to pound sand after endless rounds of negotiations? First off, Pelosi had the strategic advantage of having very little to offer Stupak and his shadowy band of anti-choice Democrats. Second, Stupak's alleged coalition is looking more like a paper tiger every day.
Stupak and his allies falsely claim that the Senate bill would fund abortions. In fact, the Senate has already passed a reform bill with strict restrictions on abortion coverage. At this point, any changes will have to be made through budget reconciliation, which can only be used for matters that bear directly on the federal budget. Regulating private insurers this way has no effect on government's bottom line, so Stupak's demands can't be taken up through reconciliation.
There are some drastic procedural overrides that the Democrats could use to indulge Stupak, but they all depend on the cooperation of all Senate Democrats and at least one Senate Republican. (You need 60 votes to ignore the rules.) It is a tenet of the Republican Party platform that embryo-Americans have full personhood from conception. The thing is, the Republicans care more about killing health care reform than they do about protecting the unborn. All 41 Senate Republicans have already sworn to vote against any further anti-choice tweaks to the bill.
One of the hottest party games in Washington is trying to figure out how many votes Stupak really has. No one's sure, but the smart money says way fewer than 12. One former member of the Stupak brat pack, Rep. Dale Kildee of Michigan, has already said he'll vote for the bill after all. President Obama and Speaker Pelosi are whipping the House Democrats like crazy. Many of Stupak's allies are seamless garment, social justice Catholics who really want health reform. They know perfectly well that the bill doesn't fund abortions. Representatives like Marcy Kaptur of Ohio will probably hesitate to kill a bill that would cover tens of millions of uninsured Americans over non-existent federal funding for abortion. So far, Kaptur has gone out of her way not to say how she'll vote.
At least the Republican senators put their convictions in writing. Stupak claims to hold sway over 12 votes, but if so, why haven't he and his buddies signed a manifesto?
Photo credit: F. Pamplona, distributed under Creative Commons.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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