New viper species found in East Africa

Where’s Matilda?

A new species of brightly coloured snake has been found in a remote area of Tanzania in East Africa.

The striking black-and-yellow snake measures 60 cm and has horn-like scales above its eyes. The newly discovered snake, named Matilda’s horned viper, has been described in the journal Zootaxa.

The exact location of the new species is being kept a secret, because it could be of interest to the illegal pet trade.

Campaign group the Wildlife Conservation Society said the snake’s habitat, estimated at only a several square km, is already severely degraded from logging and charcoal manufacture.

The authors of the study in Zootaxa expect the viper will be classified as a critically endangered species. They have already established a small captive breeding colony.

Watched the film “CREATION” last night – about that critical period in Darwin’s life when he had to confront both his daughter’s death and the matching conflict with his family, his own circle of friends and neighbors, over completion of “ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES”.

Sad, always moving, triumphant in the decision we all know he made. He would have felt the effort to save these snakes from society’s despoilment of nature as worthwhile this week – as he did in his own day.

Buffett challenges Congressional Republicans: You pay – so will I

C’mon, Mitch – put up or shut up!
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Warren Buffett is willing to put his money where his mouth is, if only congressional Republicans would join him.

The billionaire investor, in the new issue of Time magazine, says he will donate $1 to paying down the national debt for every dollar donated by a Republican in Congress. The only exception is Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell – for whom Buffett said he would go $3-to-$1.

The idea stems from a New York Times opinion piece Buffett wrote last August in which he said the rich ought to pay more taxes. It sparked an instant controversy, with some Washington conservatives calling on the 81-year-old “Oracle of Omaha” to voluntarily pay extra…

He went on to tell the magazine that what the country needed was a system that favored people who were not born investors.

“We need a tax system that takes very good care of people who just really aren’t as well adapted to the market system, and to capitalism, but are nevertheless just as good citizens, and are doing things that are of use in society,” he said.

Republicans will do anything to help their cause – except help the country.

Supremes say ministers can’t sue churches for discrimination

Funny who supports what – when it’s convenient

The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday for the first time in an important church-state separation issue that ministers cannot sue their churches claiming they had been fired in violation of employment discrimination laws.

The justices unanimously overturned a U.S. appeals court ruling that the job of a former teacher and minister at a church school was secular rather than religious and she could pursue her claim that she was improperly fired in violation of federal law…

The justices for the first time adopted a rule used for decades by some U.S. appeals courts that the government generally cannot delve into church affairs and religious beliefs in employment cases involving ministers or other clergy members. The high court accepted what is known as a “ministerial exception” to the employment discrimination laws. It generally bars the federal government from examining employment decisions by religious groups for employees with religious duties, such as ministers.

The case involved the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in Redford, Michigan, and former teacher Cheryl Perich, who was also a minister. She taught secular and religious classes…

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled against her.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the opinion that the First Amendment of the Constitution barred such lawsuits, that Perich was a minister and her employment discrimination lawsuit must be dismissed.

He said delving into a church’s employment decisions involving a minister would improperly interfere with its internal affairs and infringe on a religious group’s constitutional right to shape its own faith and mission.

Anyone think Roberts and the rest of his flock will be so industrious when it comes considering the question of religions paying taxes to the nation which so vigorously protects their civil rights?

Twinkies and Wonder Bread are bankrupt – there’s hope for American nutrition after all

Click on picture to enlarge

Hostess Brands, maker of Twinkies and Wonder Bread, is seeking bankruptcy protection, blaming its pension and medical benefits obligations, increased competition and tough economic conditions.

The Chapter 11 filing on Wednesday comes just two years after a predecessor company emerged from bankruptcy proceedings. That company, called Interstate Bakeries and based in Kansas City, Mo., filed for bankruptcy protection in 2004. It emerged in February 2009…But Hostess said Wednesday that previous efforts to produce incremental change, including the previous Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, were insufficient…

RTFA for all the excuses.

The privately held company, based in Irving, Texas, said it will be able to maintain routine operations thanks to a $75 million financing commitment from a group of lenders led by Silver Point Capital…

The company said it does not anticipate any disruptions in production or delivery of its breads or cake products and said its popular brands, which also include Drake’s, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos, will still be available.

Until they run out of suckers buying crap to consume.

Hostess said it is looking to “create a sustainable cost structure with competitive employee benefit plans.” It also hopes to modernize its systems, fleets and plants to keep pace with customer needs.

This company has tremendous potential if we can remove the barriers to success,” Driscoll said.

Another Mitt Romney-style tale of private equity investment “creating jobs”. During the previous bankruptcy – well before the Great Recession – they convinced unions desperate to retain jobs to cut pay, invest union funds including employee pension funds in the corporation. They were the biggest investors and received only a guarantee of no layoffs.

Meanwhile, relying on the American sugar addiction – a destructive habit at least as unproductive as our oil addiction – they continued to market crap food with about as much nutrition as dust bunnies.

Fed hands over another $77 billion in profits to the U.S. Treasury

Count it if you don’t believe me!
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

The Federal Reserve said on Tuesday that it contributed $76.9 billion in profits to the Treasury Department last year, slightly less than its record 2010 transfer but much more than in any other previous year.

The Fed is required by law to turn over its profits to the Treasury each year, a highly lucrative byproduct of the central bank’s continuing campaign to stimulate economic growth.

Almost 97 percent of the Fed’s income was generated by interest payments on its investment portfolio, including $2.5 trillion in Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities, which it has amassed in an effort to decrease borrowing costs for businesses and consumers by reducing long-term interest rates…

But Fed officials note that this cycle — payments flowing from Treasury to the Fed and then back to the Treasury — still saves money for taxpayers because those interest payments otherwise would be made to other investors.

It’s interest that the Treasury didn’t have to pay to the Chinese,” the Fed’s chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, half-jokingly told Congress last year.

The scale of the transfers grew rapidly after the financial crisis.

RTFA. Always gives me a chuckle to see nutballs from the Kool Aid Party to preachers of the Gold Bar religion like Ron Paul forced to confront a Fed which functions smoothly – even with double the tasks, say, of any European Central Bank.

Add to that the profits taken from the Evil Socialist Stimulus Plan which – yes, once again – gave Keynes another victory over Hayek and genetically-restricted Bears.

Avaricious Wall Street firms are hip to attack websites

Blackstone Group LP, the world’s largest private equity asset manager whose industry in the United States is in the political crosshairs, is seeking to prevent people from registering negative internet domains by acquiring them first.

Blackstone has registered several domain names critical of the buyout firm through MarkMonitor, a company that describes itself as an “enterprise brand protection” firm, a search of the domain database on showed on Tuesday.

Blackstone appears to have a sensitivity to criticism that “it sucks”. Variations of and were among those registered by MarkMonitor. Stephen Schwarzman is the co-founder and chief executive of Blackstone…

Rivals for the Republican nomination for the U.S. presidency are leading a full-blown assault on front-runner Mitt Romney’s track record at private equity peer Bain Capital, leading the rest of the industry to fear collateral damage.

Private equity professionals are having to defend their record…against popular criticism of them as asset-strippers in pin-striped suits, saddling companies with debt, selling their assets and taking dividends.

“This is a routine defensive move to protect ourselves. Any company that is in the public eye will take similar measures,” Blackstone spokesman Peter Rose said.

Still the firm may have some more domain registering to do to cover itself on that front. Although may be taken, as of Tuesday showed available for $9.88 per year.

Someone should tell Blackstone’s spokesman that [as of midnight, anyway] no one owned! 🙂