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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

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UK community wins battle to prevent their school from becoming an academy


Here’s a story so cheery I’m not sure I believe it, even though I watched it happen. This Government loves the idea of turning schools into “academies” – in order that they’re no longer controlled by local authorities or the national education system. You can understand the thinking, as other areas where this has happened – such as the railways and energy companies – have proved so successful and popular it would be a crime not to do the same with schools. Why should our children be denied the pleasure that adults have when dealing with nPower or First Capital Connect?

One instant advantage of an academy is the school gets a new name, so it’s no longer boring Didsworth Comprehensive but becomes Lord Harris Carpets Asteroid of Magnificence Academy of Braininess.

Then the school becomes free to pursue business deals with companies who can sell equipment inside the school, and offer sponsorship, so kids can be taught the Hewlett Packard seven times table, to enhance the multiplying experience.

Also, heads are finally free to set the wage rates of everyone at the school, including their own. Occasionally they double their own salary, because you can’t expect kids to study chemistry when they’re distracted by worries about how the head scrapes by on only £90,000 a year. They get so disturbed their tears make the potassium explode.


Michigan Restaurant “Moo Cluck Moo” now Pays Their Employees $15/hr. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Anyone who has ever had a job working at a restaurant can relate, right? Work your butt off serving customers, sweeping the floor, cleaning dishes, and then taking the bus home after earning a near minimum wage salary.

Many restaurant owners believe they have no other option. Sometimes their reasoning is understandable. Other times? Not so much.

Moo Cluck Moo co-founder Brian Parker takes a different approach. He pays his employees $15/hour.

“How much more do we have to make? How big of a pile of money do CEO’s have to sit on?” he says.



The President and the Tow Truck Driver

Clarence Baugh, who clears a path for all presidential motorcades through New York, has served every president since George H.W. Bush. But until this week, he’d never met one.

The New York cops call him the tow truck driver to the presidents.

“In a world in turmoil where the president of the United States is in search of a course of action, one man clears the path ahead, and if there’s anything in the way, he moves it,” an NYPD sergeant said this week. “His name is Clarence Baugh.”

Baugh is the longtime driver of the tow truck in the “sweep team” that precedes all presidential motorcades through New York, ever ready to remove any and all obstructing vehicles.

He is also so manifestly and forthrightly pleasant as to seem like good nature personified, unsoured by his previous assignments hauling away the vehicles of resentful scofflaws in Brooklyn and Queens.

more (great photo)


Scientists confess to sneaking Bob Dylan lyrics into their work for the past 17 years

By Rachel Feltman

While writing an article about intestinal gasses 17 years ago, Karolinska Institute researchers John Lundberg and Eddie Weitzberg couldn't resist a punny title: "Nitric Oxide and inflammation: The answer is blowing in the wind".

Thus began their descent down the slippery slope of Bob Dylan call-outs. While the two men never put lyrics into their peer-reviewed studies, The Local Sweden reports, they started a personal tradition of getting as many Dylan quotes as possible into everything else they wrote -- articles about other peoples' work, editorials, book introductions, and so on.

Soon, the pun ring doubled in size. After another two researchers (also at Karolinska, where Dylan is apparently a big thing) published an article called "Blood on the tracks: a simple twist of fate," a librarian connected the foursome. A fifth scientist joined the group when his article "Tangled up in blue: Molecular cardiology in the postmolecular era" hit the stands.

Now, the researchers say, they have a running bet: Whoever can sneak in the most references before retirement will get treated to lunch.


High-flying CEO quits after daughter writes list of 22 milestones he missed

The head of a $2 trillion investment fund has revealed he quit his job after his 10-year-old daughter wrote him a note listing 22 special moments in her life he had missed.

California-based Mohamed El-Erian shocked the financial world when he announced his resignation as chief executive of PIMCO in January 2014.

Mr El-Erian, who made $100 million 2011 alone, said in a recent essay for Worth that his wife and daughter were at the heart of his decision to quit.

The 56-year-old said the "wake-up call" happened when he was arguing with his daughter about brushing her teeth and she left to fetch a piece of paper from her room.

Read more at http://www.9news.com.au/world/2014/09/25/06/42/high-flying-ceo-quits-after-daughter-sends-him-22-things-he-missed

Charles P. Pierce - Under Color Of The Law

One of the sad and curious consequences of the massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut a couple of years back was the fact that, rather than being chastened by the savagery and encouraged by it to help seek solutions to the country's insane devotion to its firearms, the radical gun-rights community, abetted by the gun industry's front group and primary sales organization, the National Rifle Association, intensified its efforts to roll back even the weak regulations currently in place. It was an effective and brutal demonstration of the American right's political devotion to the orders Stalin gave the Red Army when the Germans attacked. "Ni shagu nazad." Not one step backwards. And by and large, especially at the federal level, it worked. The "teachable moment" was as evanescent as the morning dew. It's happening again, in a roughly similar context.

Obscured by events in the Levant, there has been a spate of police-on-citizen violence over the past few weeks. In South Carolina, a state trooper shot an unarmed man at a gas station who was simply going for his driver's license, which the officer himself had ordered him to do. In Ohio, the case of John Crawford III, the man gunned down in a WalMart because he was holding a BB gun, intensified with the release of a video of the shooting. (In Crawford's case, a woman who witnessed the events had a heart attack and died. Collateral damage.) In Utah, there are two shootings that have roiled two communities. In one, a 22-year old was shot and killed while in costume as a Japanese anime character and carrying a sword. (Like the Ohio WalMart shooting, this episode began when a nervous citizen called the cops.) In the other, an unarmed man was shot outside a 7-11. All of this, of course, comes in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, by Officer Darren Wilson, and the subsequent protests. This was supposed to lead to a national conversation about the militarization and training of local police departments. To be fair, that conversation is going on. But unarmed citizens are still being shot. Ni shagu nazad. Not one step backwards.

(And things in Ferguson are heating up again. Somebody torched an improvised memorial to Brown, and local police officers have taken to wearing wristbands that say, "I Am Darren Wilson." If this keeps up, any trial of Wilson in connection with Brown's death is going to have to be held on Jupiter.)

Something has gone badly wrong in the relationship between local police and the citizens they are supposed to serve. It has taken a long time to get to this point. It probably began during the early days of the "war" on drugs, in which local police were encouraged to believe that almost anything was permissable because they were facing a well-armed and well-financed "enemy" in the streets. This introduced the "Powell Doctrine" of overwhelming force to local law-enforcement, with all that entailed, including arming local sheriff's departments as though they were heavy-weapon platoons advancing on Bastogne. This attitude, and the equipment available to act it out, naturally bled over from drug busts to local police work in general.

much more


Tom Cotton and the era of post-truth politics

By Steve Benen

A couple of years ago, Mitt Romney developed a bad habit. As part of his national campaign, the Republican nominee would attack President Obama over some perceived failing. Then the attack would be fact-checked and be proven wrong. Romney, confronted with proof that he was lying, would repeat the claim anyway, convinced that it didn’t matter whether he told the truth or not. It happened over and over and over again.

It underscored a dangerous development: the era of post-truth politics.

Two years later, the phenomenon hasn’t gone away. In Arkansas last week, Rep. Tom Cotton (R), his party’s U.S. Senate nominee, was caught in one of the most brazen lies of the 2014 campaign season. The right-wing congressman claimed he voted against this year’s Farm Bill because President Obama “hijacked” it, “turned it into a food-stamp bill,” and added “billions more in spending.”

As a factual matter, literally none of this is even remotely true, and fact-checkers came down hard on such shameless dishonesty – all of which might matter if Cotton gave a darn. But as Peter Urban reported yesterday, the congressman just doesn’t care about getting caught.



Researchers Are Using ‘Bee Doctors’ To Treat Cherry Tree Disease

The future of fungus-free crops may depend not on fungicides, but on a few fuzzy insects, if a method used by Australian researchers can be successfully replicated.

The researchers are using bees as “flying doctors” to deliver a biological control agent that prevents a debilitating fungus to the blossoms of the cherry trees they pollinate. The agent — which contains spores of another fungus that prevents brown rot, a blight that’s prevalent among cherries and other stone fruit — is sprinkled into dispensers on the front of the bees’ hives. The spores cling to the bees when they leave the hive, and then rub off on the flowers the bees land on to gather nectar and pollen.

“Normally growers spray once or twice during flowering to prevent brown rot in cherries later in the season” Katja Hogendoorn, project leader for the bees-as-fungus-fighters project, said. “Because they are spraying flowers, and bees go to flowers, we can use bees to deliver the control instead.”

The technique works in place of spraying fungicide on the trees to protect them from brown rot, which can cause extensive losses if it infects cherry trees. That makes it a more environmentally sound way of preventing brown rot on cherry trees, which can be pollinated by bumblebees or honeybees.

“The bees deliver control on target, every day,” Hogendoorn, said. “There is no spray drift or run-off into the environment, less use of heavy equipment, water, labor and fuel.”



Congressman Denies Making Controversial Comments About Gays, Forgets The Entire Thing Is On Tape

Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) is now claiming that he did not make comments supporting anti-LGBT employment discrimination, as reported by ThinkProgress earlier this month.

At a town hall event in Ballantyne, North Carolina, ThinkProgress asked Pittenger: “Do you think businesses should be able to fire someone because they are gay or lesbian?” He replied that businesses should have the “autonomy” to fire workers for being LGBT, and asked rhetorically: “Why should government be there to impose on the freedoms we enjoy?”

The Charlotte Observer picked up the story, and reported that when they called Pittenger to confirm the quotes, the congressman “stood by his comments.”

But after local and national human rights groups began organizing around the comments and protesting at Pittenger’s office in Charlotte, he stood by them no longer.



Friday Toon Roundup 3: The Rest





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