Boy,7, dubbed ‘Mini Monet’, sells latest paintings for £150,000

Teachers who are afraid of insects stop children learning about natural world

Children are not learning about the natural world because teachers are frightened of getting their hands dirty, according to one of the country’s best known botanists.

Telegraph – By Louise Gray

Dr Mark Spencer, who rose to fame after appearing on the BBC’s Museum of Life series, said teachers ‘scream at the sight of insects’ and are ‘frightened of handling soil’.

“Children nowadays do not have the same insight into where their food comes from or what goes on in the countryside,” he said.

In an interview with Horticulture Week, the man in charge of the herbariums at the Natural History Museum, said Britain faced a shortage of naturalists in the future just when the country will need experts to deal with the threat of climate change and biodiversity loss.

But he also said parents need to take children to the countryside more in order to learn about the natural world.

He blamed the problem on a “lack of teachers who know about the natural world”.

“Even if the Government decided to put natural history on the primary curriculum, how would it do so with teachers who don’t have the basic skills? They are often terrified of the natural world – they scream at the sight of insects and tell the children ‘don’t touch’. The whole point is to engage them, but when people are frightened of handling soil, then we have a problem.”

Richard Needham, Chairman of the Association for Science Education, said teachers need more support in taking children on trips to the outdoors and carrying out experiments.

You Know You’re Near the Bottom When You Get Booed By the Boy Scouts

Across Texas, 60,000 babies of noncitizens get U.S. birthright

The Dallas Morning News – By SHERRY JACOBSON

As Republican members of Congress press for changes to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, preventing automatic citizenship for babies born to illegal immigrants, opponents insist the debate is not really about babies.

Instead, they say it is about politics and votes – not fixing the immigration system.

Still, the debate could resonate in Texas, where not only 1.5 million illegal immigrants are estimated to reside but at least 60,000 babies are added to their households annually.

Parkland Memorial Hospital delivers more of those babies than any other hospital in the state. Last year at Parkland, 11,071 babies were born to women who were noncitizens, about 74 percent of total deliveries. Most of these women are believed to be in the country illegally.

State Rep. Rafael Anchía, D-Dallas, accused Republicans of using the births to generate an explosive election issue.

“They’re pulling the pin on the immigration grenade,” he said. “It’s all about the November elections and continuing to use the immigration issue as a wedge to win votes this fall.”

But to Republicans, the emerging national debate is long overdue, considering that millions of immigrants have been living illegally in this country for years…

In Texas, between 60,000 to 65,000 babies achieve U.S. citizenship annually by being born in the state’s hospitals, according to a tally released by the state’s Health and Human Services Commission. Last year, such births represented almost 16 percent of the total births statewide.

Between 2001 and 2009, births to illegal immigrant women totaled 542,152 in Texas alone.

“The next 10 years will be an even more transformative decade demographically for Texas,” said Dr. Roberto Calderon, an associate history professor at the University of North Texas and a Latin American expert following the debate.

He speculated that the Republicans probably were aware of this ongoing demographic shift and how it might threaten their party since Hispanic voters tend to support Democrats.

“Manipulating the status … the rights and the opportunities for Latinos is the only avenue many on the conservative right see as a solution to remaining viable electorally,” he said. “They’re expecting what used to be safe Republican seats on the state and federal level will no longer be so safe.”

However, Dr. Steve Murdock, a past director of the U.S. Census Bureau, said it would be difficult – even impossible – to turn this demographic tide by targeting the legal status of future births.

“It might slow it down some,” he said. “But the idea that the majority of Texas Hispanics are illegal is ludicrous. The vast majority are citizens.”

Murdock, previously the state’s chief demographer and now a professor at Rice University, said the growth of Hispanics as a group in Texas has more to do with their relatively younger ages than the Anglo majority and their higher birthrates.

“In the last decade in Texas, over 60 percent of the state population increase was due to Hispanics,” he said. “The idea that the growth of Hispanics is sudden or happened only in the past few years or only in Texas is not correct.”

I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow

I know a guy who’s tough but sweet
He’s so fine, he can’t be beat
He’s got everything that I desire
Sets the summer sun on fire

I want candy, I want candy

Go to see him when the sun goes down
Ain’t no finer boy in town
You’re my guy, just what the doctor ordered
So sweet, you make my mouth water

I want candy, I want candy

Candy on the beach, there’s nothing better
But I like candy when it’s wrapped in a sweater
Some day soon I’ll make you mine,
Then I’ll have candy all the time

I want candy, I want candy
I want candy, I want candy…

Michelle Obama’s critics can just eat cake

Chicago Tribune – By John Kass

The thing about comparing Michelle Obama to Marie Antoinette is that it’s devilishly effective, now that Mrs. O and her friends are on that royal vacation in Spain. Mrs. Obama and her daughter Sasha and some ridiculously wealthy liberals and hangers-on had a Spanish beach closed last week so mom and daughter could take a dip in the Mediterranean.

They strolled through the Alhambra — a famous palace of the Moors in Granada — and dined on strawberry gazpacho and lobster. And the Obama party is staying at an exclusive hotel fit for kings. So the predictable happened when the New York Daily News Web site ran this headline: Material girl Michelle Obama is a modern-day Marie Antoinette on a glitzy Spanish vacation.

The Marie Antoinette thing went viral on the Drudge Report. Republicans thwacked her mercilessly for luxuriating on the Costa del Sol while so many Americans are out of work. But there’s one thing wrong with comparing the ultimately headless queen of France to the daughter of a Chicago machine precinct captain:

Michelle Obama isn’t a queen. She’s first lady of the United States of America. And if the first lady wants to take her daughter and her friends to Spain and spend her own money, how dare anyone rip her for it? There are many legitimate issues for which the Obama White House can be criticized. But ripping on the first lady for taking a vacation to Spain is just plain wrong.

Yes, the government picks up the tab for her security and the presidential jet. But we’d pay that tab if she returned to Chicago. So relax. Many of you know that I’m no fan of the Obama liberal big-government politics. I like President Barack Obama personally. It’s his politics that drive me crazy.

So every time the White House hints at more federal taxes and regulations — policies that frighten business away from hiring unemployed workers who are desperate for jobs — I’ve got to do something to calm my nerves. So I smoke a couple bowls of Hopium trimmed from the smiling Obama Chia Head sitting on my desk, and everything’s all right.

But Michelle isn’t going to raise the national debt by going to Spain. No one is going to lose their job. The Spaniards seem to like her. And what’s wrong with Spain anyway? Where do you want her to take a vacation, Wisconsin Dells like the rest of us? There’s nothing wrong with the Dells. Some Chicago politicians go to Aruba for the casinos. Mayor Richard Daley might go on an exotic trip with his developer buddy, Michael Marchese.

But working families vacation at the Dells. And I can’t picture Michelle’s wealthy entourage squeezing into a Paul Bunyan for the lumberjack breakfast before spending the day at a go-kart track. Some pundits shrieked that they should have gone to California, because it’s just as nice as Spain. California as nice as Spain?

Oh, shut up. In California, do they have free-range pigs that eat nothing but special golden acorns until their flesh gets buttery, forming the foundation of the exquisite ham known as jamon serrano? In California do they serve earthenware bowls of tiny baby eels, called anguilas, delicately sauteed with virgin olive oil, garlic and a touch of red pepper flakes?

Has California ever won the World Cup? Of course not. I wish I could afford Spain as well, but I’m not going to criticize our first lady because her husband made several million on his two autobiographies before he turned 47.

“The bottom line is that optics matter,” sniffed a Republican political strategist on CBS. “… At a time when we’re seeing 9.6 percent unemployment, 70,000 jobs lost this month, people losing their homes, and it doesn’t convey that she senses the plight of working families.”

Yes, optics do matter. It’s not that Mrs. Obama didn’t consider those optics. But the daughter wanted Spain. So vamanos, chiquita. If I were president and my boys wanted to go to Spain and watch soccer games, then on to England, France, Germany, Greece and Turkey, guess what? I’d send them. And you’d send your kids where they wished, if you had the money.

A few years ago, every time President George W. Bush or first lady Laura Bush appeared to have even a smidgen of fun, the network news would juxtapose their smiles against some heartbreaking account of impoverished Americans eating road kill to survive another winter.

So I suppose much of this Marie Antoinette business is a reaction to all that liberal media bias against Republican presidents. The bias has been evident for decades, and it’s one reason why networks and many newspapers have lost viewers and readers.

But Republican Party pundits are now acting exactly like the Democratic water carriers they once whined about. They want to paint a portrait of Michelle telling her peasants to eat cake if they can’t find bread. But the real picture is that it’s none of our business that a mom with a lot of cash wanted to take her daughter to Spain. So let them eat ham.