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How Did I Miss That? Goldilocks, Coldilocks and Candidate Scares

CNN had a science story about Goldilocks but another story about Coldilocks got more media attention. Goldilocks came up when the University of New South Wales in Australia discovered a planet suitable for life as we know it “only” 14 light years away, orbiting a star called Wolf 1061. It’s suitable for life because Wolf 1061c, unlike 1061a and b, exists in the “Goldilocks zone,” where the temperature is not too hot and not too cold for liquid water.

Coldilocks is the name of the oldest of the 64 polar bears in North American zoos, representative of less than 25,000 left in the wild, where the climate change some politicians in the U.S. deny is destroying polar bear habitat, Arctic Sea ice.

The summer ice where wild polar bears hunt seals is expected to disappear by 2030. The giant beasts have been dying of starvation as the ice has moved out over deep water where there are no seals. According to reporting in The Washington Post, the worst-case climate change scenario leaves only “a remnant group of bears” in captivity.

Wild polar bears live 15 to 18 years; zoo residents average 23 years. Coldilocks, born in a New York zoo, is an old lady at 35. She celebrated with a “cake” made of ice, raisins, peanut butter and trail mix. Her birthday present was two pumpkins, unless you count the recent Paris Climate Pact among 195 nations but over the dissent of the U.S. Republican Party.

My long-suffering Republican cousin Ray Sixkiller just shook his head and muttered something about the grownups taking back the GOP.

The Christian Science Monitor reported that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced that air temperatures of Arctic land are running 2.3 degrees F. above average last year, the highest recorded since observations began in 1900. In an effort to extend observations of Arctic climate farther into the past, the New Bedford Whaling Museum is delving into 2,600 whaling logbooks dating from 1756 to 1965 and digitizing weather observations. The files will be placed on line where “citizen scientists” can conduct their own research, presumably citizen scientists who are not Republicans.

Poll leading GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump claims he will be the best POTUS ever for veterans, and when he was trying to charge CNN a $5 million appearance fee for showing face at the last debate, he promised to give the money to the Wounded Warriors Foundation.

Forbes rained on Trump’s rhetorical parade by going over reports from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which donated $5.5 million to 298 charities between 2009 and the last year reported, 2013. Of that sum, $57,000 was donated to seven organizations that benefit veterans or their families, and the Wounded Warrior Foundation was not one.

Even stranger, Trump made no personal contributions to his namesake foundation in those years.

I saw a clip of Trump explaining why he will win Iowa. First, he said he’s an evangelical, “a Presbyterian.”

Presbyterianism, I was taught, is in the confessional tradition rather than the evangelical tradition, but some people conflate the two and I know better than to argue theology with a guy whose favorite book is the Bible and when asked what part of the Bible says “All of it!”

Trump also likes Ted Cruz, even though “in all fairness, you don’t see many evangelicals come out of Cuba.” Trump is broadminded enough to like Cruz even though he’s Cuban.

The Hill reported another fit of broadmindedness, by Russian President and hockey phenomenon Vladimir Putin. Putin said of Trump, "He’s a really brilliant and talented person, without any doubt.”

Establishment anti-Trump hopeful Marco Rubio said in the Republican debate that in his administration nobody would be reading terrorists their Miranda rights. I presume he means that persons accused of terrorism lose the Fifth Amendment rights that are supposed to assure a fair trial.

In defense of Rubio, Cousin Ray reminded me that same terrorist still has Second Amendment rights. “If you were guilty and facing a life sentence, would you rather have a fair trial or a gun?”

I never thought of it that way.

The most defensible of the terrorism wars is the longest war in U.S. history, Afghanistan. We are now $700 billion and 14 years into it. While President Obama drastically reduced U.S. troop strength, the Afghans in Kabul fighting Afghans in the boonies for their own reasons are still on our dime. In 2015, according to Foreign Policy, the Afghan army and police got $411 million from Kabul…and $4.1 billion from Washington.

As the U.S. continues to create ISIS fighters and refugees, public opposition to taking in political refugees fleeing violence has plenty of historical precedent, most famously the refusal to take in Jews fleeing Hitler’s genocide.

Politicians trading on fear of Syrian refugees ridiculed the government because one of the San Bernardino shooters had expressed radical sentiments on Facebook but passed three separate background checks. The demand was not just to keep Syrians out, but for more monitoring of Facebook.

What the pols failed to mention was the shooter did not post her remarks on a public area of Facebook but rather in private messaging on the Facebook site.

The New York Times reported that Wheaton College, which oxymoronically calls itself both evangelical Christian and an institution of higher learning, has disciplined tenured Associate Professor of Political Science Larycia Hawkins for asserting that Muslims and Christians “worship the same God.”

Cousin Ray doubted that statement was what got her in trouble. “It was citing the Pope as authority.”

Huffpost reported that Jose Salvador Alvarenga, 37, who set a new record of 438 days for survival while lost a sea, is being sued for cannibalism by the family of the man who was with him for the shipwreck but not for the rescue, Ezequiel Córdoba, 22. The 438 days took Alvarenga 6,700 miles, from the coast of Mexico to the Marshall Islands.

Would it be OK for the two of them to flip a coin for who eats and who is on the menu? Alvarenga is from El Salvador and the boat was from Mexico, so Anglo-American law may not help. But it’s the only law I know.

The Brits got out in front of this issue in 1884 when Regina v. Dudley found the “custom of the sea” would not be a defense to homicide when sailors survived by eating the cabin boy. In the U.S., there was the famous starvation cannibalism of the Donner Party, who scared off the Indians from feeding them when they started eating each other. There were no prosecutions, but the survivors were punished by bad reputations and worse jokes.

If serving your fellow man is a crime, then it is a tort, but this lawsuit appears to be about wanting to share the book revenues. Cousin Ray looked up from his book of long pig recipes and I quickly left the room, sensing a punstorm about to blow in. Ray hollered after me that I was giving him the cold shoulder, “like the cannibal who was late for dinner got.”

In other gruesome news, The New York Times referred to Martin Shkreli as a “pharmaceutical entrepreneur.” I would refer to him as a bloodsucker, except that would be unfair to vampires. Shkreli bought the rights to a drug to stop brain damage or death selling for $13.50 a pill and raised the price to $750.

Earlier in his career, Shkreli bought rights to a drug necessary for persons who got kidney stones from a particular disease. He raised the price from $1.50 a pill to $30.

Currently, Shkreli has bought the rights to a drug used in Latin America to treat Chagas disease, a life threatening ailment that used to be confined to Latin America but has moved to other continents by human mobility and is moving north to the U.S. as climate change alters pest vectors.

In Latin America, a course of treatment to stop Chagas costs $50 to $100. Upon FDA approval, Shkreli plans to charge $60,000 to $100,000 in the U.S.

The New York Times called this business model the product of a “pharmaceutical entrepreneur,” but the report was not about price gouging. It was about Shkreli’s other career as a hedge fund manager, in connection with which he has been arrested and charged with securities fraud.

On the subject of greed and fraud, the Associated Press reported that Cherokee Cole Hogner brought a proposal before the Tahlequah City Council to quit observing Columbus Day and substitute “Indigenous Peoples Day.” “We shouldn’t sit by,” Hogner told the Council, “and glorify a man who, in today’s time, would be arrested for crimes against humanity.”

Councilor Charles Carroll commented, “I don’t think the city council can abolish an act of Congress.”

Actually, it can, in every sense except requiring federal offices to open on a federal holiday. Cousin Ray wondered what the Councilor thought the feds were going to do about it?