Wednesday Reads: Send in the clowns…Posted: January 4, 2012
As I write this post, the numbers from the Iowa Caucus are still coming in. We had a live blog going last night, so if you missed the news coverage, check it out.
Former President Jimmy Carter has some advice for Barack Obama as he gears up for the 2012 election: Don’t alienate voters with controversial positions.
The Georgia Democrat told The Associated Press on Tuesday that just about everything he did alienated voters, from sealing a treaty to hand over the Panama Canal to establishing diplomatic ties with China.
Carter said: “If your main goal is to get re-elected, avoid a controversial subject as much as you can in the first term.”
Hmmm…I wonder if throwing the Constitution under the proverbial Obama bus is something Carter would consider alienating to voters.
Giving a first major public sign that they may be ready for formal talks with the American-led coalition in Afghanistan, the Taliban announced Tuesday that they had struck a deal to open a political office in Qatar that could allow for direct negotiations over the endgame in the Afghan war.
The step was a reversal of the Taliban’s longstanding public denials that they were involved in, or even willing to consider, talks related to their insurgency, and it had the potential to revive a reconciliation effort that stalled in September, with the assassination of the head of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council.
It was unclear, however, whether the Taliban were interested in working toward a comprehensive peace settlement or mainly in ensuring that NATO ends its operations in Afghanistan as scheduled in 2014, which would remove a major obstacle to the Taliban’s return to power in all or part of the country.
I wonder if this move will result in the Obama Administration setting up arms sales to the “peaceful” Taliban. (I am very tired, so my snark may not be quite up to speed…)
GOP Steve King admitted that the Tea Party Republicans are using hostage tactics. (No shit!) From Greg Sargent…
… King is candidly admitting that the House Tea Party wing has been employing the threat of a government shutdown as nothing more than a deliberate hostage strategy designed to wring maximum concessions from Democrats.
King made the concession in an interview with Laura Ingraham. Dems are highlighting the interview because King bashes House Speaker John Boehner for his weak leadership, but the bolded portion below is the real news here:
INGRAHAM: You think that would have helped the Republican Party and you guys would be in a better position today if the government had been shut down?
KING: The shutdown isn’t the point so much as, I don’t want the shutdown either. But if you are afraid of the shutdown you can’t have the confrontation and you lose every negotiation along the way.
And there you have it! During each impasse — the first government shutdown fight; the debt ceiling debacle; the payroll tax cut showdown — we keep being told that Tea Partyers really are crazy enough to allow the worst to happen. During the government shutdown fight, we were even told that Tea Partyers viewed that outcome as a positive. Their willingness to take us over a cliff is why Dems simply must make the concessions they’re demanding.
But now a top Tea Party leaders has given away the game, admitting that not even Tea Partyers want a shutdown. Creating the impression that they’re willing to let it happen is only about winning maximum concessions in negotiations. Let’s hope Dems keep this in mind the next dozen times this happens.
Since the Iowa counting is still ongoing, here are some science links to finish up this post.
Fly parasite turns honeybees into zombies. So on the TV show The Walking Dead, would those zombie bees be called buzzers?
If deadly viruses and fungi weren’t enough, honeybees in North America now must also deal with a fly parasite that causes them to leave their hive and die after wandering about in a zombie-like stupor, a new study shows.Scientists previously found that the parasitic fly, Apocephalus borealis, infects and ultimately kills bumblebees and paper wasps, while the “decapitating fly,” an insect in the same genus, implants its eggs in ants, whose heads then pop off after the fly larvae devour the ants’ brains and dissolve their connective tissues. Now researchers have discovered honeybees parasitized by A. borealis in 24 of 31 sites across the San Francisco Bay area, as well as other commercial hives in California and South Dakota.
I know it is a serious problem, but the thought of zombie bees, make me think of making a movie in the style of the classic The Fly. With little bees hollering feed me…feed me…
The female A. borealis flies will inject their eggs into a honeybee’s abdomen soon after coming into contact with the bee, the researchers saw in their laboratory. About seven days later, up to 25 mature fly larvae emerge from the area between the bee’s head and thorax. In the wild, no more than 13 larvae were observed busting from a single honeybee.The researchers found that parasitized bees in the wild abandon their hives and congregate near light sources, where they begin to behave strangely. A bee near death typically will sit in one place and curl up, but these infected bees walked around in circles, appearing disoriented and with little equilibrium, often not being able to stand up.“They kept stretching [their legs] out and then falling over,” Andrew Core, biology graduate student at San Francisco State University and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “It really painted a picture ofsomething like a zombie.”Core and his colleagues found that the honeybees most likely to become infected by the parasite were the ones that left their hives to forage at night, rather than the daytime foragers. The researchers also discovered fly pupae near dead bees at the bottom of their laboratory hive, suggesting that A. borealis can multiply within a hive and potentially infect a pregnant queen bee.
A lost world has been found around the dark hot hydrothermal vents in the seafloor near Antarctica.
Communities of species previously unknown to science have been discovered on the seafloor near Antarctica, clustered in the hot, dark environment surrounding hydrothermal vents.
The discoveries, made by teams led by the University of Oxford, University of Southampton, the National Oceanography Centre, and British Antarctic Survey, include new species of yeti crab, starfish, barnacles, and sea anemones, and even an octopus probably new to science.
For the first time researchers, using a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), have been able to explore the East Scotia Ridge deep beneath the Southern Ocean where hydrothermal vents, including ‘black smokers’ reaching temperatures of up to 382 degrees Celsius, create a unique environment lacking sunlight but rich in certain chemicals.
The team report their findings in this week’s PLoS Biology.
‘Hydrothermal vents are home to animals found nowhere else on the planet that get their energy not from the Sun but from breaking down chemicals, such as hydrogen sulphide,’ said Professor Alex Rogers of Oxford University’s Department of Zoology, who led the research. ‘The first survey of these particular vents, in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica, has revealed a hot, dark, ‘lost world’ in which whole communities of previously unknown marine organisms thrive.’
Scientists said on Tuesday that they had discovered the world’s first hybrid sharks in Australian waters, a potential sign the predators were adapting to cope with climate change.
The mating of the local Australian black-tip shark with its global counterpart, the common black-tip, was an unprecedented discovery with implications for the entire shark world, said lead researcher Jess Morgan.
“It’s very surprising because no one’s ever seen shark hybrids before, this is not a common occurrence by any stretch of the imagination,” Morgan, from the University of Queensland, said.
“This is evolution in action.”
Just like climate change has caused Polar bears to bread with Grizzlies…some of you may remember these bears that were shot by Inuit hunters a few years back. The polar bear grizzly hybrids are called grolar bears.
An extremely rare “grolar bear“—a polar-grizzly bear hybrid—was shot and killed by an Inuit hunter in Canada’s Northwest Territories last month.Global warming has reportedly been driving grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) farther north in search of food, bringing them into polar bear (U. maritimus) territory. Polar bears, meanwhile, are finding themselves stranded on land instead of their usual sea ice, bringing them into contact with the grizzlies.This is only the second time that a grolar bear has been encountered in the wild and confirmed, but even with its rarity, it is more distinctive than expected. DNA tests released by the N.W.T. Environment and Natural Resources Department reveal that this was actually a second-generation grolar bear—meaning one of its parents (its mother) was already a polar-grizzly hybrid. The father was a purebred grizzly, the tests found.
Climate Change? Move along, nothing to see here!
Let’s end this with an amazing touchdown flip…those of you familiar with gymnastics, check it out.
Wasn’t that awesome? Damn! What an athlete…