Stimulus bill

So it looks like Republicans want to trim some costs out of Obama’s stimulus bill. Fair enough, there’s plenty of crap in there. Unfortunately, they’re looking to trim costs from education and science, two major foes of conservatives.

A roster of $88 billion worth of cuts was circulating Thursday, almost half of which would come from education grants to states, with an additional $13 billion in aid the local school districts for special education and the No Child Left Behind law on the chopping block as well.

Well, NCLB is a bunch of crap that focuses on seeing which students can take tests the best, so that’s fine, but the actual education monies need to stay. That’s probably the worst thing that can be cut. Wait…

Nearly 20 senators from both parties met twice during the day and reviewed a list of possible cuts totaling 88 billion. They included elimination of at least $40 billion in aid to the states, which have budget crises of their own, as well as $1.4 billion ticketed for the National Science Foundation.

It’s surprising that Democrats would join in on this, but they were elected by the American public, too. I suppose it makes sense that they wouldn’t be very passionate about science.

Critics contend the bill is bloated with spending for items that won’t create jobs, such as smoking prevention programs or efforts to combat a future pandemic flu outbreak.

The smoking prevention program is an issue with the Republicans. They apparently don’t realize smoking is responsible for 30% of all cancer deaths in the U.S. Read that again. Thirty percent of all people who die of cancer each year die because they smoked (or inhaled secondhand smoke). It seems reasonable that we would want to relieve our health care system – and more importantly individual human beings – of the hardship and cost associated with being stupid enough to smoke.

Awesome

Just read it.

WASHINGTON – Flitting across your yard, butterflies seem friendly and harmless. But at least one type has learned to raise its young as parasites, tricking ants into feeding it and giving special treatment.

The pupae of the European butterfly Maculina rebeli exude a scent that mimics the ants and make themselves at home inside the ant nest. Once they become a caterpillar they even beg for food like ant larvae, researchers report in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.

But, not content just to be fed, the butterflies even manage to demand special treatment, Jeremy A. Thomas of Britain’s University of Oxford and colleagues report.

It turns out that ant queens make subtle sounds that signal their special status to worker ants. The caterpillars have learned to mimic those sounds, the researchers say, earning high enough status to be rescued before others if the nest is disturbed.

In times of food shortage, nurse ants have been known to kill their own larvae and feed them to the caterpillars pretending to be queen ants, they added.

In nature, the real ant queen and the caterpillar keep to different parts of the ant colony and would not encounter one another, the report said.

But in an experiment, a butterfly pupa pretending to be an ant queen was placed in a chamber with worker ants and four real ant queens. The ant queens began to attack and bite the caterpillar, but the workers intervened, biting and stinging their own queens, which they then pulled to a far corner of the chamber while other workers attended the pupa.

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