Planned Parenthood under attack, again

Planned Parenthood is under attack — again. This time, a campaign of misinformation about the retrieval of fetal tissue used in research and therapy is the excuse. When women have made the decision to terminate a pregnancy, Planned Parenthood allows them the opportunity to have the fetal tissue that would otherwise be discarded be used by qualified researchers to help answer important medical questions. The organization does so carefully, following all applicable laws and ethical guidelines.

In a Perspective article now published in the Journal, Charo presents compelling arguments defending these uses of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood, its physicians, and the researchers who do this work should be praised, not damned. The research is not easy to do, but as Charo explains, it has benefited millions of people worldwide. If the antichoice forces were allowed to rule the day, these advances would never have been made.

We strongly support Planned Parenthood not only for its efforts to channel fetal tissue into important medical research but also for its other work as one of the country’s largest providers of health care for women, especially poor women. In 2013, the most recent year for which data are available, Planned Parenthood provided services to 2.7 million women, men, and young people during 4.6 million health center visits. At least 60% of these patients benefited from public health coverage programs such as the nation’s family-planning program (Title X) and Medicaid. At least 78% of these patients lived with incomes at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. Planned Parenthood’s services included nearly 400,000 Pap tests, nearly 500,000 breast examinations, nearly 4.5 million tests for sexually transmitted illnesses (including HIV), and treatments. The contraception services that Planned Parenthood delivers may be the single greatest effort to prevent the unwanted pregnancies that result in abortions.

It is shameful that a radical antichoice group whose goal is the destruction of Planned Parenthood continues to twist the facts to achieve its ends. We thank the women who made the choice to help improve the human condition through their tissue donation; we applaud the people who make this work possible and those who use these materials to advance human health. We are outraged by those who debase these women, this work, and Planned Parenthood by distorting the facts for political ends.

I second that emotion. My contempt for the sophistry, the deceitful liars who planned and executed this latest attack on Planned Parenthood can scarcely be voiced in a civil manner.

I don’t care in the least if you wish to run your life, your family’s life by some rulebook written in the 14th Century. But, to have the gall, the smugness of a True Believer to justify egregious politics reactionary enough to impose your belief system on the rest of what is supposed to be a free and democratic nation is unconscionable.

Computer scientists expose security flaw suppressed by Volkswagen

A major security flaw in more than 100 car models has been exposed in an academic paper that was suppressed by a major manufacturer for two years.

Flavio Garcia, a computer scientist at the University of Birmingham, and two colleagues from a Dutch university were unable to release the paper after Volkswagen won a case in the high court to ban its publication.

The research team discovered car manufacturers including Audi, Citroën, Fiat, Honda and Volvo, as well as Volkswagen, had models that were vulnerable to “keyless theft” because a device designed to prevent the vehicles from being stolen could be disabled easily.

After years of formal and informal negotiations, Volkswagen has agreed to the publication of the paper after accepting the authors’ proposal to remove one sentence from the original manuscript.

Garcia and his colleagues Roel Verdult and Bariş Ege, from Radboud University in Nijmegen, said they found several weaknesses in the Swiss-made immobiliser system, called Megamos Crypto. The device works by preventing the engine from starting when the corresponding transponder – embedded in the key – is not present.

But the researchers showed it was possible to listen to signals sent between the security system and key, making the vehicles vulnerable to “close-range wireless communication” attacks

The RAC said electronic security systems have improved car security as vehicle theft has fallen 70% in 40 years. However, the overall decrease hides a rise in electronic hacking of vehicles, which featured in four out of 10 car thefts in London last year.

The point of any hack like this is lies with manufacturers revising their security. Sounds like VW was more interested in trying to keep the hack quiet instead of a fix.

Bear thinks he can fit through a cat door

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An Idaho man snapped pictures of a bear attempting to get into his home through a cat door but only managing to fit its head through the opening.

Doug Harder of Sandpoint said bears have become a frequent nuisance at his condo this year and he first snapped photos of the animals when a mother and two cubs climbed onto his second floor deck to eat birdseed in late May.

He said bear sightings continued in the area and a yearling broke into his condo while he was on vacation last week by opening the sliding glass door, which he had left cracked open with a piece of wood blocking the doorjamb.

Harder said the intruder did very little damage to his property, but the animal defecated on the carpet and raided the domicile for food including flour, brownie mix, Toblerone and Pepsi.

The homeowner said he went to investigate a racket at his door Thursday and was shocked to see a bear attempting to squeeze through his cat door. He said the animal was far too large to fit more than its head through the door.

It came to the cat door Thursday night, trying again and again to get through, which is when I took the photo,” Harder said…It came back yesterday trying to get through the cat door again.”

Time to get some bear spray. It won’t harm the bear; but, it will likely get the idea.

EPA proposing rules to curb methane emissions from oil and gas producers

Methane-burn
Click to enlargeRichard Hamilton Smith

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will propose regulations aimed at cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by up to 45 percent over the next decade from 2012 levels…

The regulations on methane are one part of the Obama administration’s strategy to curb greenhouse gases and combat climate change and come just two weeks after the president unveiled a sweeping rule to slash carbon emissions from the country’s power plants.

The proposal that will be unveiled on Tuesday aims to reduce oil and gas industry methane emissions by up to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025, a goal it first announced in January, one source said.

The rules are intended to put the United States on course to meet its pledge to the United Nations climate change talks to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025…

The U.S. boom in natural gas and oil production has raised concerns about leaks and venting of methane throughout the production process – from wells to transmission. So far, programs aimed at preventing those leaks have been voluntary.

Methane is the main component of natural gas, but when it is released into the atmosphere, it becomes a potent greenhouse gas…

Industry groups have said blah, blah, blah and requiring companies to buy that extra equipment is costly blah, blah, blah, blah

…Advocates for stricter methane rules have said capturing methane is mutually beneficial for oil and gas companies, and would save them money in the long run.

Detecting those leaks and capturing the methane with technology that is currently on the market can save companies money and help them produce oil and gas more efficiently, they say.

Honestly, the oil and gas industry is so accustomed to passing along the slightest cost to consumers you’d think they wouldn’t utter a peep over a regulation like this. Especially, since they’d be recapturing product they can sell along.

Expenses really aren’t anything special to this crew. I always recall taking a phone call from a driller in the Persian Gulf, BITD. He needed a couple hundred dollars worth of repair parts for a pile driver. Now.

He’d already ordered the parts over the phone from the warehouse of the firm I worked for and just wanted me to handle our portion of expedited delivery. I personally walked to the warehouse – put the two boxes of parts on a hand truck and wheeled them back to the front door of our office where a taxi was waiting.

I rode with them to the New Orleans International Airport where a chartered jet freighter was waiting with the door open. I set the two boxes of parts inside. The jet took off for DuBai.

Nothing else on board but those two boxes of parts.

Zombies are about to take over Portland

Hey, all you fantastic Pacific Northwesterners! What are you doing this labor day weekend? Because the Portland Film Festival is celebrating its fourth year running with movie premieres, Q&As, guest speakers and… zombies? Yup, you read that correctly: September 7th is Zombie Day in Portland.

George C. Romero, son of the Night of the Living Dead director, is enlisting local zombie fans to be extras in his short film Zombie Day Apocalypse. Why? He’s vying for the Guinness World Record “Most Extras in a Short Film.” And it’s up to you to help him, in full zombie garb! What better time to round up zombie movie lovers than at an independent film festival?

Per the Zombie Day website, you can sign up to play the role of Fleeing Citizen or DIY Zombie. For a small price, you can bump either of those titles up to Featured Extra. You can also donate to become a Featured Crew Member, Supporter, Associate Producer and Producer.

Thanks, Ursarodinia