ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam - Dead mice laced with painkillers are about to rain down on Guam’s jungle canopy. They are scientists’ prescription for a headache that has caused the tiny U.S. territory misery for more than 60 years: the brown tree snake.
Most of Guam’s native bird species are extinct because of the snake, which reached the island’s thick jungles by hitching rides from the South Pacific on U.S. military ships shortly after World War II. There may be 2 million of the reptiles on Guam now, decimating wildlife, biting residents and even knocking out electricity by slithering onto power lines.
Most of Guam’s native birds were defenseless against the nocturnal, tree-based predators, and within a few decades of the reptile’s arrival, nearly all of them were wiped out.
The snakes can also climb power poles and wires, causing blackouts, or slither into homes and bite people, including babies; they use venom on their prey but it is not lethal to humans.
The solution to this headache, fittingly enough, is acetaminophen, the active ingredient in painkillers including Tylenol.
The strategy takes advantage of the snake’s two big weaknesses. Unlike most snakes, brown tree snakes are happy to eat prey they didn’t kill themselves, and they are highly vulnerable to acetaminophen, which is harmless to humans.
I saw a review on Salon of Candida Moss’s new book, “The Myth of Persecution.” I had one immediate reaction, “She’s got a great publicist.” I’d never heard of her before, which isn’t surprising since she received her PhD only in 2008 and her first book came out in 2011, after I left the ivied halls of academe.
What drew my attention is that this is a case of someone popularizing what has been basic historical consensus for decades, if not longer. When I was a grad student (now 30 years ago), the myth of widespread Roman persecution of early Christians had already been debunked. Christians were not thrown to the lions in the Coliseum, and there were in fact very few periods when there was a systematic attempt to suppress Christianity by the emperors.
So why all the attention to this book? Well, because Moss is making a connection with the persecution complex of contemporary Christianity.
It’s always interesting when you actually talk to a real historian rather than the fake ones the right wing likes.
I am not going to do this often, but I’m doing it now. Down-ding if you think it’s crass.
In college, Alyce and I were in the Penn State Monty Python Society together.
She’s never asked me for anything, until now.
Get the Ring Bearer to Illinois!: indiegogo.com
I’ve already provided my self-controlled catalog of game PDFs as a package for those who donate to this effort, as well as cash.
I’m also urging her to include a PDF of her experiences and thoughts about Monty Python and its effect on her life, and the PSU Monty Python Society as one of the packages, for $5 bucks. She is an MPFC hyper-fan, and her insights are always awesome.
You Python fans can see all of the old stuff she wrote at the link below for free, but — SERIOUSLY — would you pay/donate $5 to get it all in one place, with new insights, and also to help a struggling family do what they feel is right?
It’s not extravagant; it’s being part of a family.
I know pages like this often don’t get comments, but please let me know if you’d pony up $5 to hear stories of stupid college kid MPFC fans being silly.
UPDATE: Alyce has added the Python Perk to the indiegogo.com project! Check it out!
A problem with the NCPL position might be that they are challenging a practice (a hands-over-head stretch) that isn’t religious in and of itself. The hands-over-head stretch only becomes religious in the context of a larger tradition. In this sense, stopping kids from yoga stretching because it is religious in some contexts makes about as much sense as banning kids from shaving their heads simply because it reminds you of Buddhism.
However, the organizational test raises more serious concerns in this case. Encinitas’ yoga program is partially funded by a grant from the Jois Foundation, which is contributing to teachers’ salaries, curriculum development, and even yoga mats. The Foundation is associated with the family of the late Shri K. Pattabhi Jois, a yoga teacher who popularized a form of yoga called Ashtanga. Mary Eady and the ADF claim that the Jois Foundation is a religious organization. The director of the Jois Foundation, Eugene Ruffin, says it is not.
“Our organization is made up primarily of people who are members of the Abrahamic faiths,” Ruffin told me. But consider the Jois Foundation’s relationship to the K. P. Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute, an organization whose web page asserts that yoga practice helps to burn away the “six poisons” that surround the “spiritual heart.” Talk of “spiritual elevation” and “sacred beads” does not help the case that this is a non-religious group.
Ruffin insists the two organizations are legally separate, with distinct board memberships. But the Jois family is affiliated with both, and practitioners who have been affiliated with the Institute have also had a voice in the Foundation and its curriculum development. At least one major funding source for the Foundation (donors Sonia and Paul Tudor Jones) has also been involved with the Institute.
So let’s suppose that we are dealing with a group that is in some way tinged with religion. That in itself is not necessarily a deal-breaker: we wouldn’t turn away soup made for the school cafeteria, for example, just because it was made by Lutherans. In my view, the Organization Test really turns on two questions. First, is the program organized in such a way that it is accountable in a real and meaningful way to the school, and not the religious group? Second, does the partnership involve an entanglement between the school system and the religious group that could foreseeably involve state involvement in or endorsement of religion?
In the yoga case, both of these concerns have merit. In this particular instance, though, the Encinitas school district has an effective response to the first concern. The management and administration of the yoga program, the school insists, is internal. Assistant Superintendent Miyashiro, who has no connection with the Jois Foundation, sets the curriculum, helps choose the teachers, and monitors the results. He has the authority and the resources in place to manage the program and ensure that its content and execution it is answerable to the school. The school district has set up a line of accountability that is largely separate from the organization. Once the curriculum is developed, it will be public, rather than belonging to the Jois Foundation, and will be free for any public school to adopt.
The second line of concern is perhaps more difficult. The Jois Foundation has made it quite clear that it sees the program in Encinitas as a beachhead for the eventual development of a much larger program that would put yoga in schools across the country, potentially giving the Jois Foundation a broader influence on public education as a whole.
Note that the press outlet reporting this is not free.
Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina will remain in solitary confinement for three more months for safety reasons, the Perm Regional Federal Penitentiary Service told RIA Novosti.
Apart from her safety concerns, Alyokhina does not want to share a cell with her fellow prisoners because she believes she was wrongly convicted, the service said.
She was placed in solitary confinement in November upon her own request after she complained that she had problems with her cellmates.
In mid-January, the Berezniki City Court rejected Alyokhina’s plea to defer her sentence on the grounds that she has a small child.
The court said the circumstance was taken into account by the Khamovniki District Court in Moscow, which passed the verdict over three Pussy Riot members, adding that no new arguments had been given to justify her punishment’s mitigation.
On March 4, the Perm Territorial Court will hear Alyokhina’s appeal against the lower court’s refusal to defer her sentence.
I was very happy with Secretary of State John Kerry today as he talked of U.S. freedoms, but of course some will take umbrage simply because he’s John Kerry.
Yori Yanover files his story under “Anti Semitism” and then pretends that Kerry said things he did not. Yanover goes full Godwin right out of the gate:
Forgetting, perhaps, that he was in Berlin, former home to the most terrifying regime under Heaven,
Then he leaps right to this:
Then Kerry really turned it on, telling his audience how in the land of the free neo Nazis are permitted to strut in their jackboots and swastika wherever they feel like, even in the Jewish suburbs of Chicago.
Yes, this is true - we do let Neo Nazi’s demonstrate all they like, because we like to know who they are.
However Kerry’s analogy was not that specific - he never said “Skokie” - indeed the most recent Supreme Court rulings on Free Speech and hated demonstrators have involved the Phelps Clan. The German Youths that Kerry addressed are probably far more familiar with the “God Hates Fags” hate church than they are with the 36 year old attempted Neo Nazi March in Skokie that got moved back to Chicago in the end.
What Kerry really Said:
“People have sometimes wondered about why our Supreme Court allows one group or another to march in a parade even though it’s the most provocative thing in the world and they carry signs that are an insult to one group or another.”
So Yori, it’s just tough if you don’t like US freedoms, we like to know who the evil ones are which is exactly why we don’t ban their speech, demonstrations, or gatherings. It’s sad that you think we should say one thing at home and another abroad, and it’s sad that you need to drag the holocaust to a speech where it wasn’t referenced.
Another attempt to save a dying business model by forcing it to change. Sadly, it’s not likely to happen.
New York’s Cablevision filed an antitrust lawsuit on Tuesday alleging that Viacom has compelled it to pay for 14 cable networks it didn’t want, including CMT, MTV Hits, Nick Jr., Nicktoons, Palladia, and VH1 Classic.
If Cablevision is successful in its lawsuit—which remains under seal—it could significantly push forward an “à la carte” model for cable television.
The companies haven’t said much beyond their stinging public statements.
“The manner in which Viacom sells its programming is illegal, anti-consumer, and wrong,” says Cablevision in a statement (PDF). “Viacom effectively forces Cablevision’s customers to pay for and receive little-watched channels in order to get the channels they actually want. Viacom’s abuse of its market power is not only illegal, but also prevents Cablevision from delivering the programming that its customers want and that competes with Viacom’s less popular channels.”
Viacom, meanwhile, countered that such arrangements had been “upheld by a number of federal courts and on appeal,” adding that the company would “vigorously defend this transparent attempt by Cablevision to use the courts to renegotiate our existing two month old agreement.”
Those who have to govern vs those who are going Galt.
A bunch of Republican governors have been in Washington the past few days for the National Governors Association meeting, just in time to chew out their fellow Republicans in Congress over the upcoming sequestration cuts.
“I think there’s a lack of leadership,” Gary Herbert of Utah groused to Politico on Sunday. “They need to stop having press conferences and start meeting,” echoed Virginia’s Bob McDonnell. “I think the Hill ought to be saying, ‘We’re ready to sit down and work on a budget,’” said Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett.
The drumbeat of criticism continued Monday with a press conference by Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, South Carolina’s Nikki Haley, and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker — all prominent conservatives with national profiles who made it clear they had little use for the congressional GOP’s approach, which has mainly consisted of sitting on its collective hands, blaming the White House, and waiting for the cuts to take effect.
“We’re not here speaking on behalf of Republicans on the Hill, we’re speaking on behalf of Republican governors,” Walker said pointedly. “The difference is, we’re providing leadership.”
Ouch. If this all sounds familiar, though, it may be because the split between the Hill GOP and their counterparts in the nation’s governor’s mansions has been going on for a while. The frustration is real and goes beyond routine D.C.-bashing to score political points. It’s a split between the Republicans who are charged with governing and those who have dug in as a pure opposition party. Indeed, the party’s future may hinge on which faction prevails — the state executives, whose responsibility to govern has made them pragmatists, or the D.C. legislators, many of whom seem content to serve solely as an alternative and obstacle to the Democratic White House and Senate.
Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe on Tuesday vetoed a ban on most abortions in Arkansas at 20 weeks into a pregnancy, setting up an override fight with a Republican-controlled Legislature that has been pushing for more restrictions on the procedure.
Beebe said he vetoed the ban, which is based on the disputed belief that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks, because it runs afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion until the point where fetuses can survive outside the womb, usually at 22 to 24 weeks. The Republican sponsor of the measure said he’ll seek to override Beebe’s veto.
“Because it would impose a ban on a woman’s right to choose an elective, nontherapeutic abortion before viability, House Bill 1037, if it became law, would squarely contradict Supreme Court precedent,” Beebe said in his veto letter. “When I was sworn in as governor I took an oath to preserve, protect and defend both the Arkansas Constitution and the Constitution of the United States. I take that oath seriously.”