SIRIUS XM host Howard Stern suggested he may have to do his “civic duty” and challenge Donald Trump for the presidency in 2024. The 67-year-old broadcaster said on his Tuesday show that he was shocked his derogative comments about Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers being a “sc—bag” got so much attention following Monday’s “Howard Stern Show.” According to Stern, if the public sees that point of view as revolutionary, maybe he’s smart enough to run the United States. “I think I’m going to run for president,” he said with just the slightest hint of seriousness. Stern’s longtime sidekick...
Stories Chosen For You
Most people don’t realize how hard it is to be a butterfly. They live in a dangerous world, facing environmental challenges like habitat loss and climate change. They also have to contend with predators, including birds, wasps and dragonflies.
But butterflies are much tougher than they look. Some, like monarchs, store toxins in their bodies from milkweed, and even advertise this fact with their bright coloration. Other species have wings that are flashy on top but dull underneath, allowing them to switch between brilliance and near-invisibility as needed.
Despite these tricks, adult butterflies still fall prey to a wide variety of predators. While butterflies work hard at avoiding becoming someone else’s lunch, how much do predators affect butterfly communities?
This question is important for a few reasons. Butterflies help pollinate many flowering plants, ranging from crops to backyard veggies. Butterflies are some of nature’s best ambassadors, offering us all the chance to appreciate biological diversity.
Yet many are at risk of extinction, as combinations of threats begin to overwhelm the best defenses evolution has produced. Conserving and restoring butterfly communities is important for agriculture, ecosystems and for our own sense of wonder in a rapidly changing world.
So how exactly could predators affect butterfly communities? It’s surprisingly hard to predict: sometimes predators increase diversity in communities by targeting the most common species, which makes life a little easier on rarer competitors. Conversely, if predators prefer the rarer species, selectively attacking them would reduce community diversity by pushing these more sensitive species over the edge of local extinction.
To figure out how predators impact butterfly communities we set up a study in Burnt Lands Provincial Park, near Ottawa, Canada. Burnt Lands hosts a globally rare alvar ecosystem, where only a shallow layer of soil covers the bedrock, creating patches of grassland interspersed with woodland and bare limestone pavements. Alvars are home to a wealth of flowering plants, which helps make them ideal habitat for butterflies. Burnt Lands hosts a diverse community of at least 50 species.
To determine the diversity of butterfly communities at Burnt Lands we followed a well-used technique called the Pollard walk, which standardizes butterfly surveys. Collecting data on butterfly predators, however, presented problems. Many animals eat butterflies, making counting all the predators in a given area almost impossible. How to study predators, then?
A butterfly decoy modelled after the clouded sulphur, Colias philodice, that was not attacked by predators.(Susan Gordon), Author provided
Butterfly decoys have a track record of successfully tricking predators into attacking them. They are built of modeling clay, which is soft enough to be marked easily. So when predators take a bite of a decoy, they leave an imprint.
We placed the decoys in trees and bushes in areas where we were surveying butterflies and returned after 48 hours to check for marks. By counting attack rates on decoys, we measured the predator pressure on butterflies throughout the study area.
By the end of the study we had put out 664 butterfly decoys, of which 110 had been attacked. The next step was to compare butterfly diversity at each site with the proportion of decoys that were attacked. If predators increased butterfly diversity, then diversity would be higher at sites with more attacks. If they decreased diversity, we would see the opposite.
A butterfly decoy modeled after the aphrodite fritillary, Speyeria aphrodite, that was attacked by predators.(Susan Gordon), Author provided
Predators vigorously attacked butterfly decoys, but the number of models attacked — an index of how many butterfly predators are present — was unrelated to butterfly diversity.
In other words, these butterfly species manage top-down pressures from predators without serious trouble, perhaps because predators are nothing new for butterfly species.
This matters for butterfly conservation, including in urban habitats. Birds can be abundant in such areas, while butterfly diversity is often much lower, but this interaction shouldn’t be the focus of conservation efforts.
We found that butterfly diversity tracks flowering plant diversity across our study landscape, indicating that our priority should be planting a diversity of flowers that butterflies can use as nectar sources and caterpillar host plants. By doing this, even with abundant predators, urban areas can become colourful oases of biological diversity.
Susan Gordon, PhD Candidate, Biology, L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa and Jeremy Kerr, Research Chair in Macroecology and Conservation, Professor of Biology, Chair of Department of Biology, L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa
Republicans have all but declared that Donald Trump exists above the law, and Democrats expect them to make that official if they retake the House.
Trump loyalists treat any investigations into the former president as illegitimate, and Democrats have begun to examine various parliamentary tools Republicans could use to essentially defund the various probes and make him untouchable by the law, wrote Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent.
“They want to ensure that Trump is above the law,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). "[Anyone] who poses a threat to Trump must be deterred, blocked, punished, or fired.”
Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) have already called to defund the FBI after agents searched Mar-A-Lago, and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy has put attorney general Merrick Garland on notice, and Breyer warned that a GOP House majority could reinstate the obscure Holman Rule that would allow them to use spending bills to target the salaries of specific federal officials.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) has already floated that idea, and Republicans could also cut funding for Trump investigations or any prosecutions related to the Jan. 6 insurrection -- even though such measures would never pass a Democratic-controlled Senate or be signed by President Joe Biden.
“I have no doubt whatsoever that they would use the threat of government shutdowns and debt ceiling breaches,” Beyer, who anticipates “some of the worst attacks on the rule of law this country has ever seen.”
I fail to understand why so many people have long made such a big deal about Joe Biden’s lousy poll numbers.
Don’t they know their history? Haven’t they bothered to research recent presidents’ first-term performance ratings? It just so happens, for instance, that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama took deep plunges during their first terms, that Ronald Reagan’s favorability share plummeted to 35 percent during his first term, and that even though Abe Lincoln didn’t have to worry about Gallup, it’s an historical fact that the “baboon” (as he was so relentlessly labeled) was widely perceived as a first-term screwup until the Union army won some key battles late in 1864.
So, a little perspective on Biden seems wise – especially now that he’s racking up enough wins to demonstrate, against some heavy odds, that he indeed does deliver in the realm of policy, that democracy can actually still function for the betterment of the nation. As Democrats prepare for the autumn midterm elections, with their thin House and Senate majorities hanging by a thread, Biden’s late-summer success surge certainly won’t hurt their prospects. They may even help.
If the blue party can get its act together with some effective repetitive messaging (no guarantees on that), it can hike the odds of beating the red cult in November. Believe it or not – and all the carping has obscured the truth – Biden is poised to post one of the most productive legislative records in roughly half a century, and he’s doing it with congressional majorities thinner than dental floss.
– The Inflation Reduction Act, which will land on Biden’s desk after the House passes it soon, boasts by far the biggest investment ever to fight climate change. Policy analyst Michael Tomasky points out that the imminent law “establishes the principle that the government has a role to play in setting industrial policy and creating growth, and in determining what kind of growth we want.” The bill also extends Obamacare subsidies for three years, authorizes Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for seniors, imposes billions in taxes on big corporations, and much more.
– The new CHIPS and Science Act will boost the domestic manufacture of semiconductor chips, creating jobs and helping us compete with China.
– The new PACT Act, which finally passed last week after Senate Republicans finished their obstructive hissy fit, will make it far easier for our servicemen and women to get health coverage for illnesses suffered after being exposed to the military’s toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.
– The jobless rate is 3.5 percent, a 50-year low. Plus, there’s a hiring surge.
– Gasoline prices have fallen steadily for the last 50 days in a row.
– Biden’s intelligence operatives located and killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, the co-mastermind of 9/11.
– Biden recently signed the most extensive gun reform law in three decades.
– Pushing back on Putin’s war in Ukraine, Biden has led the expansion and strengthening of NATO.
– Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which earmarks billions for roads and bridges over the next 10 to 12 years.
– Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, which put money into the pockets of tens of millions of workers who were financially hurt by the Covid pandemic. Among its many other provisions, it also earmarked money to save union pension plans that were on the verge of going under.
All told, John Harris of Politico has a good line: “Biden is looking a little like the student who is failing his class for most of the semester, then pulls an all-nighter and slips the paper under the professor’s door at 6 a.m. It turns out the paper is actually pretty good… A solid B is within reach.”
The problem with the 24/7 media, especially its twittery component, is that we always risk being trapped in the exigencies of the instant moment. Alas, a democracy doesn’t move nearly fast enough to satisfy those who pine for quick gratification. It takes time to craft the big picture.
Biden and his blue legislative allies – despite predictable missteps, despite settling for less than their ambitions visioned – still believe in something important. It’s called governing. It’s the wild and crazy notion that, if you’re elected to public office, you should try to do something substantive for the people you represent. Whereas the opposition cult is bent on doing nothing – aside from thumbing demagogic tweets to the nutcase base, and cheering on a Hitler-lite lunatic who’s on the cusp of indictment.
That contrast should be enough for Democrats to campaign on.
Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John Micek for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.