Thursday morning’s 9 passably interesting things

1) “I am requesting that the General Assembly amend this bill to explicitly state that no woman in Virginia will have to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound involuntarily. I am asking the General Assembly to state in this legislation that only a transabdominal, or external, ultrasound will be required to satisfy the requirements to determine gestational age. Should a doctor determine that another form of ultrasound may be necessary to provide the necessary images and information that will be an issue for the doctor and the patient. The government will have no role in that medical decision.” — Virginia Governor Backtracks, Offers Amendment To Ultrasound Bill

2) GOP debate audience (pictured left) boos contraception question – During a CNN-sponsored Republican presidential debate in Arizona, the crowd booed wildly at the mention of birth control. [...] Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney called the Obama administration’s decision to have all health plans cover contraception for women an “attack on religious conscience.” “I don’t think we’ve seen in the history of this country the kind of attack on religious conscience, religious freedom, religious tolerance that we’ve seen under Barack Obama,” the candidate explained. For his part, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum defended his earlier remarks about “the dangers of contraception”…

3) Five super-rich men are deciding the GOP nomination – A quarter of the money that has fueled a bitter nomination battle among Republican White House hopefuls, from which no settled favorite has yet emerged, has come from just five super-rich Americans. The sway that wealthy donors have been able to exert has come about due to them pouring money into so-called super PACs, political action committees with no formal affiliation to a candidate but, more crucially, no funding cap. [...] Around $126 million has so far been donated to super PACS, with nearly 25 percent of that money coming from Simmons, Adelson, Friess, Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, and Houston construction magnate Bob Perry.

4) Romney Admits He’d Give Huge Tax Break To Top 1 Percent – Romney admitted that his tax plan contained a massive tax cut for the wealthiest Americans: SANTORUM: Governor Romney even today suggested today raising taxes on the top 1 percent, adopting the Occupy Wall Street rhetoric. I’m not going to adopt that rhetoric. I’m going to represent 100 percent of Americans. We’re not raising taxes on anyone. ROMNEY: Number one, I said that we’re going to cut taxes on everyone across the country by 20 percent, including the top 1 percent. So that’s number one. [...] Romney’s plan to give a 20-percent tax cut, lowering rates for the wealthiest Americans from 35 percent to 28 percent, and repeal the alternative minimum tax would, as Romney admitted tonight, provide a huge tax break to the richest Americans, at a cost four times higher than the Bush tax cuts.

5) Minimum Wages Could Be Lowered In Arizona, Florida - Republican lawmakers in Arizona are pushing legislation that would lower the legal minimum wage for younger part-time workers and tipped workers such as restaurant servers, just as Florida lawmakers are considering dropping their state’s tipped rate as well. In both cases, proponents of the measures are arguing that the wage floor for such employees is too onerous on businesses.

6) Did you know: Stocks Return More With Dem in White House - While Republicans promote themselves as the friendliest party for Wall Street, stock investors do better when Democrats occupy the White House. From a dollars- and-cents standpoint, it’s not even close. The BGOV Barometer shows that, over the five decades since John F. Kennedy was inaugurated, $1,000 invested in a hypothetical fund that tracks the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) only when Democrats are in the White House would have been worth $10,920 at the close of trading yesterday. That’s more than nine times the dollar return an investor would have realized from following a similar strategy during Republican administrations.

7) Rick Santorum’s not really “from the coal fields” (nor was he born in a manger) – Santorum’s claim to have come “from the coal fields” is a stretch – by two generations. He has never worked in a coal mine. His parents’ professions were psychologist and nurse, and Santorum is a lawyer who has spent all of his adult life in politics. But he frequently invokes his grandfather, who worked in the auto factories of Detroit and then the coal mines of Western Pennsylvania after he immigrated to the United States from Italy.

8) Sarah Palin ‘believed Queen was in charge of British forces in Iraq’ – [A]ccording to research done for a new film chronicling her brief political rise. [...] Her confusion emerged during a coaching session with Steve Schmidt, a top McCain adviser, who asked Mrs Palin what she would do if Britain began to waver in its commitment to the Iraq war. In one of the many rambling responses that steadily eroded her credibility during the campaign, Mrs Palin reportedly replied that she would “continue to have an open dialogue” with the Queen.

9) Zombie chicken: it’s what’s for dinner – As long as their brain stem is intact, the homeostatic functions of the chicken will continue to operate. By removing the cerebral cortex of the chicken, its sensory perceptions are removed. It can be produced in a denser condition while remaining alive, and oblivious. … Food, water and air are delivered via an arterial network and excreta is removed in the same manner. Around 1000 chickens will be packed into each ‘leaf’, which forms part of a moving, productive system. || Note: Or there’s always savory lab-grown meat