Number of Monarch Butterflies Triples

(p. 11) MEXICO CITY — After years of being ravaged by severe weather and shrinking habitats, the monarch butterflies hibernating in the Mexican mountains rebounded last year, kindling cautious hope that one of the insect world’s most captivating migrations may yet survive.
The World Wildlife Fund said at a news conference here on Friday [February 26, 2016] that the orange-and-black butterflies, which fly more than 2,500 miles each year from Canada and the United States to a cluster of mountain forests in Mexico, covered about 10 acres this winter, an area more than three times as large as the space they covered last year.

For the full story, see:
VICTORIA BURNETT. “Monarch Migration Rebounds, Easing Some Fears.” The New York Times, First Section (Sun., FEB. 28, 2016): 11.
(Note: bracketed date added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date FEB. 27, 2016, and has the title “Monarch Butterfly Migration Rebounds, Easing Some Fears.”)

Contrary to Earlier White House Denials, Obama Admits to Banishing Bust of Winston Churchill

(p. A7) HANOVER, Germany — It has been, perhaps, one of the most enduring mysteries of President Obama’s tenure: What really happened to the bust of Winston Churchill that was once displayed in the Oval Office?
. . .
The conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, the onetime Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a current Republican presidential candidate, are among those who have chastised Mr. Obama over the years for returning the bust to the British.
. . .
Dan Pfeiffer, the president’s communications director at the time, blasted Mr. Krauthammer, calling his charge about the disappearing bust “100 percent false” and saying that “news outlets have debunked this claim time and again.”
. . .
But late last week, Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, renewed the charge, writing in a British tabloid that the Oval Office bust had been “banished” . . .
Countering such charges is typically left to a president’s aides. But asked at a news conference Friday about the mayor’s comments, Mr. Obama seemed to relish the chance to set everyone straight, once and for all, about the fate of the Churchill bust.
. . .
. . . Mr. Obama went on to explain what had happened to the bust lent by Mr. Blair, the one that critics had accused him of summarily sending back to the British. It was, Mr. Obama said, his decision to return that Churchill to his native land, because he wanted to replace it with a bust of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
. . .
That appears to contradict the longstanding denials by White House officials, including Mr. Pfeiffer, that neither Mr. Obama nor anyone else in his administration had chosen to dispatch Churchill’s likeness in favor of someone else’s. By Mr. Obama’s admission, he made the decision to replace the Churchill bust with one of Dr. King.

For the full story, see:
MICHAEL D. SHEAR. “White House Letter; No Need for Holmes; Obama Sheds Light on a Churchill Mystery.” The New York Times (Mon., April 25, 2016): A7.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 24, 2016, and has the title “White House Letter; No Need for Holmes; Obama Sheds Light on a Winston Churchill Mystery.”)

Scientific Knowledge Matters More than Myth Because of Its Practical Effectiveness

(p. C6) Stories matter; knowledge matters more.
“When we talk about the big bang or the fabric of space,” . . . [Carlo Rovelli] writes, “what we are doing is not a continuation of the free and fantastic stories that humans have told nightly around campfires for hundreds of thousands of years.” You might tell a great campfire story about an antelope, he comments. Knowing how to track and kill one is more relevant to survival.
“Myths nourish science, and science nourishes myth,” Mr. Rovelli says. “But the value of knowledge remains. If we can find the antelope, we can eat.”

For the full review, see:
DWIGHT GARNER. “Books of The Times; A Vast Cosmos, Made Bite-Size and Delectable.” The New York Times (Weds., MARCH 23, 2016): C1 & C6.
(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed name, added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date MARCH 22, 2016, and has the title “Books of The Times; Review: ‘Seven Brief Lessons on Physics’ Is Long on Knowledge.”)

The book under review, is:
Rovelli, Carlo. Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. New York: Riverhead Books, 2016.

Feds Encourage Costly, Intrusive, Confusing Title IX Bureaucracies

(p. A1) CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In a brightly lit classroom here at Harvard, Mia Karvonides was trying to explain to a group of bemused student leaders the difference between a romantic encounter and “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,” as the university’s relatively new code of sexual misconduct defines it.
She tried to leaven the legalistic atmosphere at the town-hall-style meeting with realistic-sounding examples, defying gender stereotypes. Jose and Lisa, chemistry students, are working late at night in the lab, she began, when Lisa comes up from behind and kisses Jose on the neck.
Such a surprise move, she suggested, could be the beginning of a sexual misconduct complaint.
. . .
Ms. Karvonides is Harvard’s first Title IX officer, leading a new bureaucracy that oversees how the institution responds to complaints of sexual violence under Title IX, the federal law that governs gender equity in education. She is one of a rapidly growing number of Title IX employees on campuses nationwide, as colleges spend millions to hire law-(p. A3)yers, investigators, case workers, survivor advocates, peer counselors, workshop leaders and other officials to deal with increasing numbers of these complaints.
. . .
The expansion of Title IX bureaucracies — often at great expense — is driven in part by pressure from the federal government, which recently put out a series of policy directives on sexual misconduct on campus. More than 200 colleges and universities are under federal investigation for the way they have handled complaints of sexual misconduct, up from 55 two years ago.
. . .
. . . in a report last week, a national association of professors said that the Title IX bureaucracy had started to infringe on academic freedom, by beginning investigations into faculty members’ lectures and essays.
. . .
At a minimum, federal rules require colleges to designate one Title IX coordinator, at least part time.
Many colleges have gone far beyond that, at a cost ranging from thousands to millions of dollars.
. . .
At the University of California, Berkeley, officials said, Title IX spending has risen by at least $2 million since 2013, though they declined to give the total.
“Certainly, colleges are spending more related to Title IX than ever in history, both preventatively and responsively,” Mr. Sokolow said. He estimated that dealing with an inquiry could cost “six figures,” and that responding to a lawsuit “can run into the high six or even seven figures, not counting a settlement or verdict.”
. . .
Some campuses have adopted “affirmative consent” rules, in effect a written or unwritten contract, requiring a yes before the first kiss and at every step along the way. Harvard has opted instead for what Ms. Karvonides called a more nuanced standard of “unwelcome conduct.”
This has led to criticism by some that the policy is not strong enough, and by others that it could punish behavior as mild as flirting.
“This is ubiquitously on the mind of everyone at Harvard,” said Daniel Banks, the undergraduate council vice president, who helped organize the recent town-hall-style meeting on the subject. Many students have concluded that the best solution is not so much compliance as avoidance.
“You either don’t date at all,” said Daniel Levine, another student leader, “or you’re like a married couple.”

For the full story, see:
ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS. “In Battling Sexual Misconduct, Colleges Build a Bureaucracy.” The New York Times (Weds., MARCH 30, 2016): A1 & A3.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date MARCH 29, 2016, and has the title “Colleges Spending Millions to Deal With Sexual Misconduct Complaints.”)

The AAUP report expressing concerns about how Title IX bureaucracies violate academic freedom and due process, is:
American Association of University Professors (AAUP). “The History, Uses, and Abuses of Title IX.” Draft Report, March 24, 2016.

Basic Goods Unavailable in Socialist Venezuela

(p. 5) I used to laugh when I heard that reporters were headed to Caracas with their own deodorant. I thought they were just being fussy.
Then came my turn.
I brought Old Spice. For detergent, I brought a ton of Tide. That’s one of my bags above, and all the other essentials that came along: two nasal spray bottles, three tubes of toothpaste, one package of floss, a bottle of body wash, shaving cream, contact lens solution, AA batteries, sponges, detergent, toilet paper and a big bottle of ibuprofen. Two bottles of Scotch.
If a selfie in the airport is a rite of passage for those leaving Venezuela, a preflight run to the supermarket to fill a suitcase with basic goods is the ritual for those arriving here.
Since the economy fell into deep collapse in 2015, some things just aren’t sold here. Other items — like toilet paper — are on the black market but can be tricky to find.
My friend Girish has been making these trips for the last five years. I asked him before moving here what to pack, besides toilet paper.
He responded, via text: “Medicine. First Aid stuff. Spices/other food you like. Kindle (as books aren’t so easy to get here), shampoos/toiletries etc if you like something specific…”
Like some people here, Girish brings enough to get him through a month or so. Then he makes a pit stop in Colombia to fill up the cabinet again.
But most people in Venezuela can’t leave and have to make do with whatever they can find.

For the full story, see:
NICHOLAS CASEY. “Settling Into Venezuela, a Land in Turmoil.” The New York Times, First Section (Sun., Jan. 24, 2016): 5 & 9.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date January 5 [sic], 2016, and has the title “Moving to Venezuela, a Land in Turmoil.”)

Tesla Direct Sales Thwarted by Laws that Protect Dealers Instead of Consumers

(p. B3) Tesla Motors Inc. hopes to capture mainstream auto buyers with its Model 3, an electric car it plans to unveil this week at a price about the same as the average gasoline-powered vehicle, but it may need a federal court ruling to succeed.
The Palo Alto, Calif., auto maker’s direct-to-consumer sales are prohibited by law in six states that represent about 18% of the U.S. new-car market. Barring a change of heart by those states, Tesla is preparing to make a federal case out of the direct-sales bans.
The auto maker’s legal staff has been studying a 2013 federal appeals court ruling in New Orleans that determined St. Joseph Abbey could sell monk-made coffins to customers without having a funeral director’s license. The case emerged amid a casket shortage after Hurricane Katrina. The abbey had tried to sell coffins, only to find state laws restricted such sales to those licensed by the Louisiana Board of Funeral Directors.
For now, Tesla is banking on a combination of new legislation, pending dealer applications and other factors to open doors to selling directly in Arizona, Michigan, Texas, Connecticut, Utah and West Virginia. But the company said it is ready to argue in federal court using the coffin case if necessary.
“It is widely accepted that laws that have a protectionist motivation or effect are not proper,” Todd Maron, the auto maker’s chief counsel, said in an interview. “Tesla is committed to not being foreclosed from operating in the states it desires to operate in, and all options are on the table.”
. . .
“There is no legitimate competitive interest in having consumers purchase cars through an independent dealership,” Greg Reed, an attorney with Washington D.C.-based Institute for Justice, a libertarian-leaning law firm, said. He calls Michigan’s laws “anti-competitive protectionism.”

For the full story, see:
MIKE RAMSEY. “Tesla Weighs Legal Fight.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., March 29, 2016): B3.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date March 28, 2016, and has the title “Tesla Weighs New Challenge to State Direct-Sales Bans.”)

Government: “One Vast Honey Pot with Thousands of Ants Lined Up Around the Rim”

(p. A21) Ms. Tolchin hit on the subject of patronage when Mr. Tolchin, then a reporter in the metropolitan news department of The New York Times, wrote a series of articles on the topic that several publishers urged him to turn into a book. Daunted, he turned to his wife for help.
“The political-science literature had an enormous hole on the subject,” she told The Washingtonian in 2011. “It’s such a critical part of the political process — it was wonderful virgin territory.”
Their combined efforts — he provided the reporting, she provided the scholarship — resulted in “To the Victor…: Political Patronage From the Clubhouse to the White House,” published in 1971.
In lively fashion, the book surveyed the history and examined the mechanisms of a system the authors described as “one of the occupational hazards of democracy.” They traced its influence, for good and ill, in city halls, statehouses, courthouses and, onward and upward, Congress and the White House.
The picture it painted was often bleak, presenting government at all levels as “one vast honey pot with thousands of ants lined up around the rim to get at the sweetener inside,” according to a review in The Times.
It was a rich subject to which the authors returned in “Pinstripe Patronage: Political Favoritism From the Clubhouse to the White House … and Beyond,” published in 2011. Patronage is “the major reason people go into politics,” Ms. Tolchin told The Washingtonian.”

For the full obituary, see:
WILLIAM GRIMES. “Susan Tolchin, Scholar and Author, Is Dead at 75.” The New York Times (Fri., May 20, 2016): A21.
(Note: ellipses in original.)
(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date May 19, 2016, and has the title “Susan Tolchin, Political Scientist Who Foresaw Voter Anger, Dies at 75.”)

The two books on government patronage that are mentioned above, are:
Tolchin, Martin, and Susan Tolchin. To the Victor: Political Patronage from the Clubhouse to the White House. New York: Random House, 1971.
Tolchin, Martin, and Susan Tolchin. Pinstripe Patronage: Political Favoritism from the Clubhouse to the White House and Beyond. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2011.