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How Did I Miss That? Buffalo, Elephants, Lions, Oh My

African lions are a threatened species worldwide, but the BBC reported that lions are thriving in the Niassa National Reserve in Mozambique because of elephant poaching. Poachers have killed between 6,000 and 7,000 elephants since 2011, ripping off their tusks and leaving the carcasses for lions. Baby elephants orphaned by poachers also wind up as lion food.

My cousin Ray Sixkiller and I are both short of wisecracks as we remember the pictures of American bison carcasses skinned and left on the plains. Being the most powerful species does not make humans the smartest.

Indians doing NAGPRA work have often seen practices on Indian remains that are enough to make you lose your lunch. Ditto an investigative report in The Texas Observer on maltreatment of the remains of unidentified persons in Brooks County, Texas.

A paper trail on unidentified dead people is important for obvious reasons. The longer a body is exposed to the elements the harder to identify and to determine whether homicide was involved. The first step is a police report. Brooks County had 361 reports between 2009 and 2013.

The rest of the paper trail involves documents produced by a contract funeral home, an autopsy report, and a record of the location of the burial.

Of the 361 police reports, only 121 bodies had even partial paper trails after leaving law enforcement custody. Records showed 72 autopsies ordered but only 58 reports, most lacking vital information.

DNA samples from unidentified remains are supposed to go into a national database at the University of North Texas. No DNA ever showed up at the University and there was little evidence that any was collected. The burials, handled by a local affiliate of corporate behemoth Service Corporation International, violated rules on burial containers, depth of burials, and, most important, grave marking.

About a year ago, the Texas Rangers—an organization with a less than sterling record of caring about brown people—investigated and found nothing illegal, move along now, nothing to see here.

Brown people? Oh yes, I neglected to say why a rural Texas county would have so many unidentified corpses. Brooks County is the site of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement checkpoint. Human smugglers let their cargos off south of the checkpoint and expect them to walk about 40 miles in 100 plus degree heat to be collected north of the checkpoint. Many don’t make it.

“We are under siege!”

“We” would be the home of white supremacy on the World Wide Web, Stormfront. The founder and proprietor, Don Black; was announcing the kickoff of the Stormfront Legal Defense Fund, a reaction to the FBI investigation into Dylann Storm Roof, the brave soldier for the white race who killed elderly Bible students in Charleston, South Carolina.

Black complained “ordinary White people feel completely alienated by this Rainbow White House and all the rest of the anti-White system.”

Stormfront has been going through a rough patch lately and Dylann Roof’s attempt to ignite the race war Stormfront claims is already burning didn’t help at all. Roof woke up a lot of conservative white southerners who apparently didn’t know that most of the soldiers for white supremacy march under the Stars and Bars.

Sunday Review published “Why Are Our Parks So White?” Nonwhites are 37 percent of the population but only 22 percent of park visitors. In polling, the primary reason was fear of encountering dangerous nonhuman animals and racist white people, not necessarily in that order. I guess they missed Stormfront’s memo that there’s a race war and they are winning.

On the opportunistic racism front, The Donald Trump, speaking in Nevada, revealed his plan to secure the southern border. He proposed to charge Mexico $100,000 a head for every person who crosses without papers. This is the funniest idea since Kinky Friedman proposed subcontracting border security to Mexican generals.

My Republican Cousin Ray was not amused. “The Donald is like George Wallace,” Ray grumbled, showing his age. “His top number in the polls is enough to lead a field of 15, but it’s also his top number in the general election.”

The number Cousin Ray cited was the number of “first tier” candidates after this week’s announcement by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Fox News, which is organizing the first debate, still hews to a different understanding of “first tier.” The top ten in national polls get to debate while the rest get to watch.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto told Univision last year that if drug kingpin Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera (El Chapo or, in English, Shorty) escaped prison again “it would be more than unfortunate, it would be unforgivable.” This week, El Chapo escaped from Mexico’s most secure federal prison through a tunnel with lights, ventilation, and a motorcycle on rails.

The height of the tunnel was such that Shorty did not even have to crouch, much less crawl, and a U.S. DEA agent told MSNBC that he estimated the budget for the tunnel at “$3-5 million,” small change for El Chapo’s murderous Sinoloa Cartel, the biggest provider of Columbian cocaine to the U.S. market. The escape seems likely to touch off a bloodbath along the trade corridors as El Chapo strikes at those who moved in on his business while he was locked up.

Cousin Ray has always figured that NAFTA would eventually apply to cocaine and he suggested that the Sinoloa Tunnel (sure to title a narcocorrido) was aimed toward a linkup with a tunnel near the Canadian border that starts in the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York.

The late Richard Matt, one of the architects of the northern branch, had a telltale tattoo on his back, “Mexico Forever.” Rumor has it that Matt’s colleague, David Sweat, intended to apply to Donald Trump to fund an extension he called the “Shawshank Cutoff” to Zihuatinajo. After all, if Mexican crime died down, Trump’s entire campaign would need a new message. After the escape, Trump claimed the fugitive kingpin “is possibly in the U.S.”

Trump tweeted that President Obama or his presumed rival, Ms. Clinton, would want to negotiate with El Chapo. “Trump, however, would kick his ass,” tweeted Trump.

The Twitter account claiming to be El Chapo since 2012 tweeted insults back at Trump that are unfit for a family publication, coupled with threats that led Trump to report the threats to the FBI.

“There is no truth to the rumor,” Cousin Ray snarked, “that Trump sent a Learjet to Mexico to make sure El Chapo gets here before the Iowa caucuses.”

Turning from drug cartels to the fossil fuel cartels that will be even more dangerous to human life, the Union of Concerned Scientists has begun to collect and post on the Internet what they call Climate Deception Dossiers, documents that prove major fossil fuel corporations were aware of atmospheric CO2 causing climate change in the early eighties but made a conscious decision to fund “scientists” who would work to disprove the connection or keep things confused for a few more years

“Here’s the elevator pitch for a Hollywood movie producer,” Cousin Ray enthused. “97% of the world's scientists contrive an environmental crisis, but are exposed by a plucky band of billionaires and oil companies.” I broke it to Ray that I knew he got that from a tweet by Scott Westerfeld, the science writer.

“Maybe so,” Ray admitted, “but that ol’ boy gave up too easy. You’ll quit laughing when I get Wes Studi to play the honcho of the American Petroleum Institute.”

I’m terribly embarrassed to have missed these job opportunities posted almost two months ago by the Saudi Ministry of Civil Service. According to The New York Times, they need blade wielding psychopaths to remove heads and hands from convicted criminals. The Saudis punish drug offenses with beheading, so naturally there are no drugs in Saudi Arabia. When the notices went up, a man convicted of a drug offense had just become the 85th beheading this year compared to “only” 88 in all of last year.

Almost half of this year’s beheadings involved drug offenses and there’s no question that the rising numbers relate to King Salman replacing King Abdullah. The controversy is over whether Salman’s regime is more barbaric or the new king has just caught up on judicial appointments.

The swordsmen hired need not demonstrate any specific educational background or skills. A woman beheaded earlier this year on video took three strokes of the sword, a level of incompetence that matches the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1587—but Mary was dispatched with an axe rather than a sword.

Henry VIII famously hired a swordsman from Europe to behead Ann Boleyn for the very reason that swords are supposed to be quicker than axes. Cousin Ray was impressed by “Hank 8’s kindness to his wives,” pointing out that he only killed two of the six, and none died as hard as Margaret de la Pole, Countess of Salisbury, who was beheaded on Henry’s orders after 11 blows. She was 67, very much an elder by the standards of the time.

“Indians were so fortunate,” Cousin Ray added, “that the English were kind enough to come here and civilize us.”