Friday Reads: Bad Boys, Bad Boys …

tumblr_mlluq8wR2x1qgn7e1o1_500Good Morning!

So, I’ve had a long week of saying “wtf is wrong with these people?”  Here’s a link to one story in Arizona that went straight straight to the top of the list.

A student holding a sign that read “You deserve rape” ignited outrage across campus Tuesday, on the same day of a sexual assault awareness event, but administrators declined requests to remove him or his sign.

Dean Saxton — also known as Brother Dean Samuel — regularly preaches on the UA Mall in front of Heritage Hill and the Administration building. On Tuesday, his sermon drew the attention of onlookers, several of whom either personally confronted him or complained to the Dean of Students Office.

The Dean of Students Office received stacks of written complaints, emails and multiple phone calls regarding Saxton’s sermon about women, said Kendal Washington White, interim dean of students.

Saxton has never directly threatened anyone in particular, and his language has been general enough that he isn’t targeting a particular person, White said. However, a university attorney was contacted to discuss the situation.

“We find it to be vulgar and vile,” White said. “However, it is protected speech. He has yet to, at this point, violate the student code of conduct.”

Saxton, a junior studying classics and religious studies, said his sermon was meant to convey that “if you dress like a whore, act like a whore, you’re probably going to get raped.”

“I think that girls that dress and act like it,” Saxton said, “they should realize that they do have partial responsibility, because I believe that they’re pretty much asking for it.”

Saxton’s sermon came ahead of the “Take Back the Night” event held Tuesday night, which aims to unite people against sexual violence. He said his decision to create the sign and display it was tied to the event and to the fact that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

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So, I guess every critter on the planet has its share of bad behavior.  Ours just seems to be so much worse.   For bees, it’s nectar robbery.

TO MOST people, bumblebees are charming, slightly absurd creatures that blunder through garden and meadow with neither the steely determination of the honeybee nor the malevolent intention of the wasp. If you are a plant, though, things look rather different—for from the point of view of some flowering plants many bumblebees are nothing more than thieves. They rob them of their nectar and give nothing in return.

Nectar robbery, in which a bumblebee carves a hole in the side of a flower as a bank robber might cut his way into a vault, was discovered by Charles Darwin. This technique lets bees get at the nectar of flowers whose shapes have evolved to encourage their pollination by insects with long tongues, which can reach down narrow tubes.

Some bumblebees do have such tongues. But some do not. Short-tongued bees are, however, unwilling to deny themselves the bounty of nectar inside these flowers. Hence the hole-cutting. By breaking in in this way, though, a bumblebee nullifies the 100m-year-old pact between flowering plants and insects: that the plant feeds the insect in exchange for the insect pollinating the plant.

The question about nectar robbery that has intrigued biologists from Darwin onwards is whether the behaviour is innate or learnt. Darwin, though he originated the idea that many behaviour patterns are products of evolution by natural selection, suspected that it is learnt. Insects, in other words, can copy what other insects get up to. Only now, though, has somebody proved that this is true.

The observations were made by David Goulson (then at the University of Stirling, now at the University of Sussex), and his colleagues. To test his ideas he had to go from Britain to Switzerland, for only there could he find a flower of the correct shape to conduct the study.

His crucial observation was that when the flowers of an alpine plant called the yellow rattle are robbed, the entry holes—because of the structure of the flower—tend to be unambiguously on either the right-hand side or the left-hand side. Moreover, preliminary observation suggested that the holes in flowers in a single meadow are often all made on the same side. This led him to speculate that bumblebees in a particular area do indeed learn the art of nectar robbery from one another, and then copy the technique with such fidelity that they always attack a flower from the same side.

9.Job seekers, men standing in front of the Chicago Daily News building, looking at newspapers

Nectar robbery still doesn’t sound as bad as a slut slamming religious studies student.  We all know the evil done by Dick Cheney, but did you watch Chris Hayes and hear about his son-in-law?

MSNBC host Chris Hayes on Thursday night explained the key role Dick Cheney’s son-in-law played in keeping chemical plants free of regulations.

Concerns were raised in 2002 that chemical plants in populated areas — like the one that recently exploded in West, Texas — were vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

The heads of Department of Homeland Security and Environmental Protection Agency had planned to regulate the security of chemical sites, but Dick Cheney’s son-in-law Philip Perry stepped in and informed them they lacked the authority to do so without congressional legislation.

At the time, Perry was serving as the general counsel of the Office of Management and Budget at the White House.

“Basically, the Bush administration from above pulled support for that bill because the chemical industry does not want to be regulated by the EPA,” Hayes said.

“Fast forward to 2007, and Philip Perry — again, Dick Cheney’s son-in-law — is at the Department of Homeland Security as general counsel. What he managed to do in an appropriations rider is slip in industry friendly language into the bill that moves the task of regulating chemical plants from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of Homeland Security. But DHS is given none of the tools it would need to do that.”

It looks like wild populations of cheetahs may go extinct because of habitat encroachment.  It’s estimated that wild cheetahs may have less than 20 years left.  Here’s a heartwarming story about a good dog and a cheetah.  We’re ruining their habitat but a few folks are trying to help

It’s hard to fathom, a dog and a cheetah living together in a zoo?  But it’s true, and it works.  ”It’s a love story of one species helping another species survive,” said Jack Grisham, vice president of animal collections at the St. Louis Zoo.  Of the 19 cheetahs at the zoo, 4 have canine companions who play with them, watch out for them, and teach them to be more social.

“It is all about comforting and reassuring the cheetah,” said Janet Rose-Hinostroza, animal training supervisor at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, where there are also 4 cheetahs with dogs.  Cheetahs are not social animals, which makes it difficult for them to mate, and may be their biggest threat in fighting extinction.  They are by nature skittish, so having dogs with them, who are by nature social seems to be a comfort.

“In this relationship, the dog is dominant, but we look for dogs that want to be a buddy,” Rose-Hinostroza said. “The dog always has the cat’s back, but it’s never the other way around. Dogs worry about their cats. They protect their cats.”  For that reason they are not always together, for example during mealtimes they are separated so the dogs eat kibble and the cats eat steak.  ”The dogs are the bosses in these relationships,” Rose-Hinostroza said. “If they ate together there would be one really fat dog and a really skinny cheetah.”

The cheetahs are doing their part to help the dogs too, since most of the companion dogs are rescued from shelters for their new job.  They are paired up when the cheetahs are cubs, around 3 months old.  This is idea is not a new one, in Africa dogs have been used for decades to protect sheep from cheetahs.  This in turn, keeps the cheetahs from being killed by farmers.  ”For the first time in 30 years, the cheetah population in the wild is on the rise because ranchers don’t have to shoot them anymore. They don’t need to shoot them. The dog is that effective at keeping the cheetah away from the herd,” Rose-Hinostroza said.

Austerity policies are bringing record high unemployment to Spain while unemployment is going up all over the continent.

Spain’s unemployment rate soared to a new record of 27.2% of the workforce in the first quarter of 2013, according to official figures.

The total number of unemployed people in Spain has now passed the six million figure, although the rate of the increase has slowed.

The figures underline Spain’s struggle to emerge from an economic crisis which began five years ago.

A big demonstration in Madrid is being planned against the austerity measures.

On Friday, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will unveil fiscal and policy measures aimed at halting recession in the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy.

“These figures are worse than expected and highlight the serious situation of the Spanish economy as well as the shocking decoupling between the real and the financial economy,” said Jose Luis Martinez, strategist at Citi.

That is basically the same levels of unemployment that this country endured during the peak of its great depression. I really hope that these idiots seen that the lessons we learned during the Great Depression are still valid and stop causing misery through the world.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Tuesday Reads: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, a “Moderate Republican,” Buyer’s Remorse, and Sellouts

Coffee and Morning News, by Tim Nyberg

Good Morning!

Yesterday, Newsweek published a list of job-creating strategies by former President Bill Clinton. The headline is “It’s Still the Economy, Stupid.” I’m not going to excerpt from the article, you can read it at the link above.

But I’ll share part of the bad review Dean Baker gave Clinton’s suggestions, some of which seemed credible to to me. Dean Baker really has a bug up his a$$ about Bill Clinton. He makes a case that we began losing manufacturing jobs under Clinton and Bush simply continued was Clinton’s policies. I’d be interested to hear people’s responses this critique.

I don’t watch the Sunday shows anymore, but I learned from Steve Benen that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was asked about jobs and unemployment on Face the Nation this week.

On CBS’s “Face the Nation” yesterday, host Bob Schieffer asked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) yesterday, “Do Republicans have any plans to do anything on the unemployment front or are you just going to let things take their course?” It seemed like a good question.

McConnell replied, “No, I — I think — what — what we’re doing is encouraging the president to — to quit doing what he’s doing.”

Clearly McConnell isn’t even worried enough about the current unemployment crisis to have even thought about a response to what should be an obvious question.

From Jay Bookman, I learned that McConnell’s primary concern is “overregulation.”

McCONNELL: If you talk to business people and Bill Daley, the present chief of staff did recently, you find out their biggest complaint is overregulation. You know, the federal government with that stimulus money hired a quarter of a million new employees. These people are busily at work trying to regulate every aspect of American life in– in health care, financial services, through the Environmental Protection Agency, really sort of bureaucrats on steroids that are freezing up– the private– private sector and making it very difficult, Bob, for them to grow and expand. You know, you’re seen the reports that they’ve two trillion in cash. The reason they’re not investing that in hiring more people is the government has made it very expensive to expand employment.

His recommendations for Obama:

Quit overspending. And we’re hoping with the debt ceiling discussions we can begin to address deficit and debt. And second, they need to quit over-regulating the American economy. This is something they can do on their own. They don’t have to come to us for permission to rein in these regulators who are really at work across the American economy making it very, very difficult for businesses to function.

What about the Democrats? Benen links to this piece at Politico: Democrats eye new jobs agenda.

Senate Democrats are beginning to fear that the country’s increasingly dim economic outlook will cost them their seats in 2012 and are trying to craft a new agenda aimed at spurring job creation.

Wow! The Dems in the Senate have finally figured out that they might be in trouble with the electorate. Someone go find the President on the golf course or the basketball court or whereever he’s hanging out today and tell him the breaking news.

Fearing the economy may be getting worse, Democrats plan to soon unveil what they’ll call a “Jobs First” agenda — and the stakes are high. A bleak economic outlook, like the May jobs report, could cost Democrats their thin Senate majority and even the White House if they can’t make a strong case to an anxious electorate that their policies will create jobs.

“Jobs First?” Isn’t it a little late for that? It has already been “Wall Street First” for three years. Maybe “Jobs Second” would be a little more accurate, although I doubt if this latest project will amount to anything.

Everyone is talking about the NYT Sunday Magazine profile of Jon Huntsman, who is spouting the usual Republican economic insanity: Jon Huntsman Supports Radical Balanced Budget Amendment

In a private conference call with a handful of university students across the country, GOP Presidential hopeful — and President Obama’s former Ambassador to China — Jon Huntsman argued in support of one of the most far-reaching, controversial elements of the conservative political agenda.

As first reported in a broader piece by the Huffington Post, Huntsman argued in favor of a constitutional amendment requiring the federal government to maintain a balanced budget — an innocuous-sounding, but radical plan pushed by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and numerous other congressional conservatives.

“We’re going to have to fight for a balanced budget amendment,” Huntsman said. “Every governor in this country has a balanced budget amendment. It keeps everybody honest. It’s the best safeguard imaginable.”

At its core, a balanced-budget amendment would make it unconstitutional for the government to spend more than it collects in revenue — a requirement that, without safeguards, would make stimulus and emergency spending impossible.

Ezra Klein adds:

I’ve noted previously that Jon Huntsman’s campaign strategy appears to be to match a moderate, conciliatory tone with an orthodox conservative policy platform. And sure enough, he’s endorsing a balanced-budget amendment. It’s not clear if the specific balanced-budget amendment he’s endorsing is The Worst Idea in Washington — in which case, Huntsman will have to explain how he’ll handle the fact that Paul Ryan’s budget, which he has also endorsed, will be unconstitutional — or just a relative of it. Either way, it’s not moderate in the least. Which isn’t to say it’s not good politics.

From Andrew Leonard at Salon: The imaginary GOP “moderate” candidate

Reporter Matt Bai manages to deliver more than 6000 words on Huntsman without providing a single practical reason why anyone, Republican, Democrat, or Independent, might possibly consider voting for him. Whether this is because Bai simply isn’t interested in actual positions on the issues or because Huntsman just doesn’t have a platform to campaign on — or some evil toxic combination of both — is hard to say. But the result is just plain baffling. Bai quotes Huntsman as saying “I think what’s going to drive this election, really, are two things — authenticity and the economy” — and then proceeds to write a profile that doesn’t contain a single iota of insight into Huntsman’s views on any economic policy issue.

6000 words — and not a single one of them is “jobs” or “taxes” or “budget” or “deficit” or “Wall Street.” This amounts to political reporting malpractice. If Huntsman isn’t interested in delineating a stance on these issues, then why is Bai bothering to cover him? And if Bai isn’t interested in trying to discern what Huntsman’s stance is, why is the New York Times publishing him?

LOL! That’s pretty funny. Have I ever told you how much I hate Matt Bai?

It’s hard to believe it at this point, but some bloggers are just now figuring out that Obama isn’t “The One.” At Shakesville, Melissa McEwan reacts to a quote from Russ Feingold in which he says Jeffrey Immelt is “not the right guy…”

“It’s not just campaigns and contributions,” Feingold noted. “We have to say to the president, ‘Mr. President, Jeff Immelt is not the right guy – the CEO of GE is not the right guy to be running your Jobs & Competitiveness Council, not when your company doubled its profits, increased his compensation, and asked its workers to take huge pay and benefits cuts.'”

McEwan writes:

But as I read Feingold’s words—not the right guy—a not fully formed thought that has been hanging around the edges of my consciousness suddenly came sharply into focus: Obama is not the right guy.

It’s not (just) that his policies are insufficiently progressive, or even insufficiently Democratic, and it’s not (just) the arrogance, the hippie-punching, the bipartisan blah blah, the 12-dimensional chess, and it’s not (just) his tepid, half-assed, pusillanimous governance and his catastrophic ally fail. All of these things are just symptoms of this basic truth: Obama’s not up to the job.

I don’t mean he’s not up the job of being president; I mean he’s not up to the job of being president right now. I’m sure he’d have made a fine president some other time, some decade of relative peace and prosperity, where the biggest demand on his capacity was “don’t fuck it up.”

Check the date on that post. It’s June 17, 2011. She is just figuring all that out in 2011. How come I could already see it in 2007? And you should see the fawning comments on that post!

Here’s another buyer’s remorse post, and it’s very well thought out and well written. Janet Rhodes has clearly been angry with Obama for quite some time. But she still worked for his Campaign and voted for him. Why? Because he gave inspiring speeches!

Still her rant is worth reading. Fawning comments follow, naturally. Where were all these people back in 2008 when we had a choice? OK, I know I’m beating a dead horse, but still….

Finally, Kathryn Graham’s surviving relatives prove they couldn’t care less about news or the newspaper she valued so highly.

Washington Post Co. Chairman Don Graham sold off about $10 million in company stock days after successfully lobbying to loosen regulations on the for-profit higher education firm that is its most lucrative business.

A spokeswoman for the Washington Post Co. said the sale was on behalf of a trust for one of Graham’s siblings, not for Graham himself, and the company last week amended its filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission to clarify that Graham’s family, rather than he personally, was benefiting from the sale….

The disclosure indicates that the family that owns the paper profited from the bump in its stock price after the regulations became public and drove stock prices up across the for-profit education industry. Washington Post Company stock jumped 9% on reports of the new regulations; it has settled a bit since, but it still trading higher than before the news broke.

Let’s face it, newspapers are dead. Decent reporters should head to the internet.

That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?