The Crystal Ball: Artificial DNA, Dog Torture And Al Sharpton’s $50k Fee

Each week, FishbowlNY offers up their picks for the cream of the underreported news cycle. Are you a blogger? Journalist? Then these are the stories to keep an eye on:

(Un)mad Scientists Create Life: Barring a major setback, 2008 will mark the first year that scientists will be able to create life in the laboratory out of artifical, manmade DNA. According to Paul Rubinow, a UC Berkeley anthropologist who specializes in scientific ethics, “This raises a range of big questions about what nature is and what it could be… Evolutionary processes are no longer seen as sacred or inviolable. People in labs are figuring them out so they can improve upon them for different purposes.” Translation: The Almighty will no longer have a franchise on the creation of new life forms.

Subtext: Insert your favorite horror movie here. The Canadian ETC Group states that “Ultimately synthetic biology means cheaper and widely accessible tools to build bioweapons, virulent pathogens and artificial organisms that could pose grave threats to people and the planet.” What happens when the technology to create artifical DNA becomes more easily available and falls into the hands of terrorists or hostile militaries? What happens if scientists make mistakes? What happens when the creation of life will be almost as easy as ordering from an Edmund Scientific catalogue?

What Do Mike Huckabee’s Son & Michael Vick Have In Common?: Newsweek reports that one of Mike Huckabee‘s kids hung a stray dog for fun while serving as a counselor at a Boy Scout camp in 1998. David Huckabee, then 17, was investigated by the Arkansas State Police and fired by the Boy Scouts after news trickled out that him and another teenager tortured a dog that was found “hung over a limb and choking.”

Subtext: This follows David Huckabee’s arrest in April for carrying a loaded gun in his carry-on luggage. Keep in mind that this incident of animal cruelty was reported by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette back in 1998. What happens when other news of Huckabee’s less-than-perfect family trickles out, like the time his other son was caught with marijuana and Huckabee Sr. sued alt-weekly Little Rock Free Press to supress the story?

Al Sharpton’s Awesome Corruption Adventure: The Philadelphia Inquirer got their hands on a videotape of Al Sharpton offering to help a Philadelphia businessman win a multi-million dollar series of contracts if the businessman, Ronald A. White, raised $50,000 for causes and politicians associated with Sharpton. For his part, Sharpton claims there is “absolutely nothing illegal” about tying contracts to donations because he isn’t a public official.

Subtext: As our friends at Radar say, Sharpton will be in the PR/ER shortly. Again.