Sunday, April 1, 2007

Study Shows Rats Have Better Ethics Than Humans

(10-Minute Updates)
April 1, 2001

News Index From The Associative Press


Filed at 4:01 a.m. E.T.

In a new study appearing in tomorrow’s American Journal of Socio-Biology, researchers at Flagstaff University’s Mary Coulter Field Institute report findings that argue common lab rats have better ethics than human beings. A ten year series of tests involving carefully randomized human subjects demonstrated far more ruthlessly opportunistic behavior than comparable testing of rats.

“Professionally, this is fascinating, but personally it can get pretty depressing,” said lead researcher Dr. Vishnu Schist, author of the study, “Hierarchy and Self-Denial In Extremis: Socio-Biologic Implications of Reality Testing.”

The tests involved a simulated shipwreck, in which it became quickly obvious that only limited numbers of humans or rats would be able escape. The question was whether anyone would step back to let others go ahead, and in what order.

Scientists were dismayed to find that rats, despite the sterotype, actually proceeded in an orderly and predictable way, letting pregnant females leave first, followed by young rats. Humans, in contrast, shoved aside anyone who got between them and the way out. Dr. Schist said he had witnessed young male humans literally walking over very young human babies in their rush for self-preservation. “They just didn’t care who they stepped on,” said Schist.

The irony is, according to Dr. Schist, that such ruthless self-promotion inevitably leads to destruction of the whole species. So while saving only oneself may benefit the individual, he says, “These rats have a much better sense of the future, and they’re going to outlast us, apparently.”

Copyright 2001 Associative Press/CMI

Senator Apologizes for "Troglodyte" Remark

(10-Minute Updates)
April 1, 2001

News Index From The Associative Press


Filed at 4:01 a.m. E.T.

First-term New York Senator Amanda B. Reckondwith apologized today for remarks made on on CNN’s “Spin Room” last night, during which she referred to a witness currently appearing before her Congressional committee as “a troglodyte.”

Reckondwith also told CNN’s Tucker Carlson last night that insurance industry spokesman David Walter should be held criminally responsible if the insurance companies go ahead with their plan to cut reimbursement for asthma and allergy medications. In her statement today, the Senator did not retract this second part of her previous remarks.

The newly-formed Joint House-Senate Committee on Common Sense in Government had called David Walter to testify about the insurance company strategy after hearing that the so-called “Big Three” insurers had jointly hired Dr. Andrew Weil as a consultant.

Ed Bradley of CBS recently reported on “60 Minutes” that Weil believes allergies are learned behaviors that can be unlearned with the aid of psychoactive drugs. In an interview, Weil claimed to have unlearned his lifelong allergy to cats while under the influence of LSD.

Weil’s role as consultant will be to explain to the public the industry’s decision to stop paying for medication for the most rapidly-growing chronic disease in the world. Weil had no comment today as to where allergy sufferers could get pharmaceutical-grade lysergic acid diethylamide to help cope when the insurance runs out, which could come as early as May 1.

Copyright 2001 Associative Press/CMI

Census Missed 1.5 Million Deadheads

"On the road" population moves under federal radar

By Mike Weaver and Neil Ribald
Baltimore Times-Sentinel Investigations Team

April 1, 2001

Does Uncle Sam know who I am? A record number of mostly young, mostly white followers of the Grateful Dead rock bank and its many offshoots are asking that question of federal authorities.

Now an independent review of federal Census data conducted by the Times-Sentinel's investigations team suggests they could be right: The government may have failed to enumerate more than 1.5 million tie-dyed citizens.

In response to complaints from hundreds of Beltway-area residents, the Times-Sentinel analyzed U.S. Census results from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. The undercount apparently stemmed from the Deadheads' constant travel and lack of interface with the record-keeping systems of mainstream society. The joint investigations team, working in conjunction with sociologists from Baltimore State University, developed customized software based on the international standard for counting refugee migrations.

A useful point of comparison for researchers proved to be Athens, Ohio, a college town where the caravans of roving Deadheads set down for predictable seasonal visitations. A local radio station there had echoed a call posted on the band's website ( for Deadheads to make sure Census would "Count Every Head!" Last year, 1,768 self-proclaimed Deadheads presented themselves to be counted at the federal building in Athens. As a result, notes Mayor Ken Schweikert, Athens' total population surged into a new, and more favorable, lending category for developers.

The Grateful Dead themselves had long predicted that the official head count would not catch up with their peripatetic extended family. Lyricist Robert Hunter told a Rolling Stone reporter in 1998 that Census takers would "need a miracle every day" to reach every bead stringer and grilled cheese sandwich chef in the endless migration.

Not every member of the parking lot community is happy with the campaign to make the census include Deadheads. Several older fellow travelers expressed emotions ranging from dismay to anger at younger fans' eagerness to be noticed by the federal government.

"I didn't go through natural childbirth in an unheated cabin without drugs so she could turn around and do this," groused bead vendor Yvette Wynotte. "The next thing I expect to hear is that she's gone and gotten a damn Social Security number."

"Once they're off the road, it's all over," agreed Angela Motorman, who described herself as the founder and driver of the 27-year-old Great Coastal Axis Liberation Army and Permanent Floating Caravan. "My sister's kid got it into her head she wanted a "traditional" wedding, and for that she needed a marriage certificate, which meant she had to get a birth certificate, and before you could say "Casey Jones" she's walking into court and asking some judge to change her legal name to Jennifer. Like Astromeda isn't her true name anymore!"

Dr. Sybil Fawlty, head of the sociology field program at Baltimore State, had unusually harsh words for the U.S. Census effort to count itinerant hippies, calling director John O'Reilly's original plan "preposterous." Dr. Fawlty continued, "O'Reilly's men never finish the job. They're so clueless they can't even find the door."

Commerce Department spokewoman Avril Phoule defended O'Reilly's work, and denied that the Times-Sentinel study reveals anything new. "These individuals were already reported to have been missed," she said, referring reporters to a press release last week that confirmed 3.2 million people throughout the U.S. were overlooked by Census takers.

"You don't really think we have a million and a half people living completely off the grid in this country, do you?" asked Phoule. "It stands to reason these are weekend hippies who take off their beads and tie-dye Sunday night, and put on Dockers and a tie Monday morning."

Yet the thousands of young neo-Rastafarians converging on the parking lot outside Baltimore's Kurt Schmoke Arena contended that Ms. Phoule has no idea what their world is like. One earth-toned twenty-something man with an oversized candy-striped top hat, introducing himself "Shane from Long Island," protested that he and his "buds" have a right to be counted as Americans. "Man, just because it's a long, strange trip, I mean, sometimes you don't know where you're at, you know? That don't mean nothing. I got rights, too."

Observers of the vagabonds agree that the majority of fans following the Grateful Dead spinoff tours really do not have any fixed address.

"How can you be in two places at once, when you're really nowhere at all?" asked Dr. Philip Proctor of Baltimore State. "Still, we need to know how many bozos there are on this bus, so to speak."

A spokewoman for the band's Census campaign web site ( vowed yesterday to continue the push for full recognition. Connie Anjan promised to bring their encampment to the suburban doorsteps of individual federal Census officals if necessary. "We're really well-practiced at being mobile," she said, "and we're tired of being invisible."

As the aging children of this ephemeral city packed up their pachouly, glass pipes and embroidery for a move to the next concert site in Buffalo, one thing seems certain. However many they may be, these hippies will get by. With or without a touch of gray, with or without the federal government, they will survive. "No matter what," says Angela Motorman, "we keep on truckin'."

[PHOTO CAPTION/Credit Liz Estrada, CMI] Grateful Dead fans gather in the parking lot at Kurt Schmoke Arena in Baltimore, sharing hand-rolled Mound Builders brand cigarettes from southern Ohio while waiting for grilled cheese sandwiches to finish toasting atop itinerant poet Lance Ryder's two-burner Coleman stove.

Slow down, you're reading too fast

"Minivan Terrorist" Driven Crazy by Press, Friends Say

By Angela Motorman

Associative Press (ASP)
Published: April 1, 2007
Filed at 4:20 p.m. ET

Pataskala, Ohio -- Family and friends of the man who crashed his family's minivan into the lobby of the Washington Post on Saturday morning after an all-night drive from his home in this Columbus suburb said today that he had expressed growing anger in recent days over the way national news organizations cover both domestic and international issues.

According to his wife, 58-year-old Alfred Cater had been spending most of every day watching and reading news since being laid off last year from his position as managing editor at The Buckeye Banner, a 40,000-circulation community weekly acquired in 2005 by Dallas-based PressCorp. Sandy Cater said her husband had become obsessed with what he considered the failure of the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN and other major news outlets to inform Americans of the causes and consequences of government policies.

"He just couldn't believe the reporting could be so superficial," Mrs. Cater said. " He was staying up half the night reading internet sites, trying to fill in the gaps. It was making him crazy."

Lance Ryder, a Columbus State Community College professor who has known the accused since they both attended the OSU School of Journalism in the 1970s, said his old friend had become extremely agitated over the past week as details emerged implicating various Bush administration officials in the decision to fire eight United States Attorneys last year, allegedly for refusing to follow partisan political direction from the GOP.

"I think the last straw was watching Karl Rove rapping and dancing at the Radio and Television Correspondents Association dinner last week," said Ryder. "At last year's performance by Stephen Colbert [during the White House Correspondents Association dinner], the audience sat on their hands like there was nothing funny. This year, the sight of all those reporters and editors laughing along with this criminal Rove was more than Al could stomach."

Ryder added that Cater had been an early opponent of the US war in Iraq, and a frequent participant in weekly candlelight vigils held in his old neighborhood of Clintonville, on the north side of Columbus. "Just last week, Al was with us for the fourth anniversary of the start of the war, holding the same sign he always held," Ryder recalled. "The sign was starting to look pretty tattered, but he wouldn't give it up. The sign said 'Trust the People', but Al was running out of patience."

Lawyers for Alfred Cater entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity during Cater's arraignment yesterday in District of Columbia Superior Court on multiple charges, including assault with a deadly weapon. Attorney Leon Karg cited extreme emotional distress caused by exposure to propaganda, a defense never before used in American courts. "This man was fed a steady diet of toxic disinformation," said Karg. "It's no different than if he had consumed rat poison. Sooner or later, your system can't filter out the junk, and you lose control of yourself."

Karg associate counsel Amy Cuscuria noted that Cater had not only lost his career of 30 years, but was also about to lose his dream home after being unable to refinance the mortgage for the fourth time. "He blamed Dominion Homes," the attorney said, citing the development company under investigation for its lending practices. "But what made him really furious was the lack of warning the press had given homebuyers over the likely result of all those subprime loans."

Cater's suburban neighborhood just east of Ohio's capital city has been devastated by mortgage defaults over the past year, leaving only a handful of owner-occupied homes along empty streets in the once-busy development known as Shelter Ridge. Cater's next door neighbor, Dennis Menimen, said he and Cater were "the last fools on the block."

"We thought we were okay," Menimen said, "because we were able to keep up payments after everybody else defaulted. We didn't understand what all those empty houses would do to the value of our own homes." Like Cater, Menimen blames the national press for not explaining to consumers the dangers of what he called "time-bomb" mortgages.

"You'd think the media would want people to know how this stuff works," Menimen said. "Instead, these newspapers act like their business and real estate sections are just advertising flyers. No wonder nobody pays for those bird cage liners any more."
Menimen, a former supervisor at the shuttered Plastech Engineered Products plant in nearby Circleville, now works as a landscaper during the week and runs a flea-market booth on weekends. Menimen said he "can understand Al's rage", and agrees with his neighbor's decision to target the Washington Post.

"I wouldn't have the guts to do what he did," Dennis Menimen said, "and I'm sure glad he didn't hurt anybody. But it's time those [expletive deleted] got a wake up call, and if it takes a guy plowing an Aerostar through the lobby to get their attention, I'm all for it."

Cater's college friend Lance Ryder added that he can't disagree with Menimen's assessment. "The way news is produced these days is a real scandal," he said. "Al Cater and I studied journalism back when it meant speaking truth to power and holding the government accountable. We worshipped Woodward and Bernstein," he said, referring to the Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate story. "But today, it's all bread and circuses and blondes in rehab. Our alma mater, OSU, doesn't even have an accredited journalism program anymore. It's a school for PR flacks."

The executive editor of the Washington Post bristled at accusations of collaborationism levelled at the national press by Cater and his defenders. Speaking on condition of anonymity, Leonard Downie said, "These nutcases are getting all hyped up on blogger juice and spewing facts and analysis like they have some right to credibility."

"Look at how they've treated poor Debbie Howell, not to mention Joe Klein and Michael Kinsley," he continued. Downie was referring to his newspaper's ombudsman and two online columnists for Time Magazine, all of whom have suffered the wrath of readers in the last year for alleged lapses in journalistic ethics and fact-checking. "It's not like we tried to sell them Judith Miller's stenography," he added, citing the New York Times reporter whose credulous accounts of Iraqui military capability are thought to have influenced Congressional acceptance of the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq in March 2003.

"If they have facts they think we should be reporting, if they have analyses they think we need to print, let them try out as interns for three months," Downie offered. "Or let them use a damn typewriter for once and mail us an actual letter. I just don't believe we're failing our audience," he concluded. "If they really think so, I say to them: Bring it on."

Copyright 2007 CMI/Associative Press. All rights reserved.