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How Did I Miss That? Liam Neeson Rescues Horses; Russell Crowe Banned

March 7 and 8 were the National Days of Unplugging, when participants were supposed to disengage from the virtual world and pay attention to friends and family. My Cousin Ray Sixkiller pointed out that they ask you to register on line for email updates and you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter—then he headed out to his grandson’s soccer game.

There’s a new political slogan, “Girls With Books!” A look at this video explains how something so ordinary becomes dangerous in parts of the world:

I asked Cousin Ray for a pithy comment, but he was busy helping his granddaughter with her homework.

Actor Liam Neeson has brought his celebrity to bear against the animal rights movement to ban horse-drawn carriage rides around Central Park in New York. Cousin Ray said he hopes any ban will “grandfather” currently working horses. “They make it sound like the horses will end up retired in sunlit fields of alfalfa, when they’d more likely end up in a can of Alpo.”

Juan Cole blogs that “Egypt’s al-Azhar seminary, the foremost legal and intellectual religious center in the Sunni Muslim world, called for a ban on the film Noah in Egypt.” While Islam recognizes the Great Flood story as fact, some Islamic scholars ban the depiction of patriarchs or prophets in any manner—paintings, statues, or film. Cole sees the controversy over the ban as a test of separation between mosque and state in the “new” Egypt. “Wait for it,” grumbled Cousin Ray, “somebody will put a fatwa on Russell Crowe for playing Noah.”

Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, director general of Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation, quoted by The Washington Post on the Boeing 777 missing on a flight from Malaysia to China: "This unprecedented missing aircraft mystery—as you can put it—it is mystifying." Cousin Ray Sixkiller: “Sure glad he cleared that up.”

Democrats threaten to derail Las Vegas as frontrunner for the 2016 GOP convention by promising to follow delegates around with video cameras and post the videos on line. This may be so scary that pro-Israel billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s offer to help with the tab won’t be enough. Cousin Ray said he, too, had heard the rumor that there is sin in Sin City, “but we’ll be OK if David Vitter stays home in Louisiana, where there is no sin.”

Once GOP VP candidate and future GOP Presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) told a touching story about a kid who wanted lunch in a brown paper bag, not a free lunch from the government, because the brown bag was a symbol of having somebody home who cared. The point was that those of us who have children in the family who have gotten government lunches should be ashamed. Turns out, Ryan’s anti-School Lunch Program story was cribbed almost word-for-word from An Invisible Thread, a book published in 2011 by Laura Schroff. In context, the author offered to give a poor kid money for lunch and he preferred lunch. Those of us who were there as children know lunch money can be stolen. “If you want to keep the minimum wage low to benefit the working poor,” Cousin Ray reminded me, “it only makes sense to cut the School Lunch Program to benefit poor kids.”

Rep. Paul Ryan: “What they’re offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul.” Cousin Ray Sixkiller: “Even Ayn Rand reads a little better on a full stomach.”

Cadillac ran this ad 

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during the Winter Olympics that has kicked over a beehive of controversy over allegedly glorifying the pursuit of stuff as a life goal. Defenders say the ad merely aimed to put Cadillac on a par with BMW and Mercedes for people already on that treadmill. For those who despise the ad, Cousin Ray pointed out, it could have been worse. “They could have paid to run it during the Super Bowl.”

Has Nancy Grace finally libeled a person accused of crime who has enough money to make her pay? The New York Times reports that a judge has decided Michael Skakel’s libel suit based on the false claim that DNA tied him to the killing of Martha Moxley could go forward. The judge ruled that the DNA report was more than “a minor inaccuracy.” Cousin Ray wondered, “How would prosecutors do their work without Nancy Grace to bring the torches and pitchforks?”

The Associated Press reported that Benjamin Bishop, 59, a civilian contractor and lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, is prepared to plead guilty to passing classified national defense information to his 27-year-old Chinese girl friend. “It should have tipped him off,” Cousin Ray suggested, “when she told him classified documents are a Chinese traditional remedy for low T.”

Former Army Light Colonel and former Tea Party Congressman Allen West, who once criticized active duty generals for “blindly following a commander in chief that really does not have the best intent for our military” and called for censorship of Wikileaks material in the US, is announcing the First Annual Allen West Boot Camp, where you can be taught the political ropes by the guy who warned that liberal women “are neutering American men,” join Col. West in his “morning work out,” and attend “a special reception with Donald Trump.” Cousin Ray was tempted. “I’d pay to see The Donald’s hairpiece up close—but would I have to listen to him talk?”

The Wall Street Journal reported that President Hamid Karzai’s brother has withdrawn from the upcoming Afghanistan elections and endorsed another candidate. “Proving,” Cousin Ray snarked, “that opium pays more than graft.”

The Marine Corps Times reported that medically retired Cpl. William Carpenter, now a student at the University of South Carolina, will become the second living Marine to receive the Medal of Honor in our recent wars. He fell on a grenade to shield another Marine from the blast on an Afghanistan rooftop in 2010. “Since that guy has been through about 30 surgeries,” Cousin Ray pointed out, “I guess we should be grateful that President Karzai’s opium pals keep the price of morphine down.”

The news broke on March 11 that the CIA has been spying on and manipulating the data received by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is tasked with overseeing the CIA. The immediate issue was a report still not released on CIA use of torture……that’s “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Torture is illegal and subject to cultural interpretation. We hanged Japanese POWs after WWII for, among other things, waterboarding American POWs. “You just put your finger on why the report is taking so long,” Cousin Ray asserted. “The CIA admits to waterboarding, so the issue is whether Arabs are enough like white people to make it torture?”

Fox Business reported last month that the British Serious Fraud Office filed criminal charges against three former employees of Barclays Bank for rigging the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). It was the spiking of the LIBOR that froze the credit market and kicked off the Great Recession. The US didn’t charge any bankers with fraud for crafting the mortgage-backed securities that they knew contained bad loans and then selling credit default swaps against those securities in amounts they could not pay because they were, like Barclays, “too big to fail.”

The New York Times reported this week that Banamex, a Mexican subsidiary of Citigroup, has lost $400 million in fraudulent loans involving an oil services company, Oceanografía, that was supposed to provide services to the Mexican oil monopoly, Pemex. Cousin Ray was chuckling about bankers in the UK and Mexico getting in hot water for fraud. “In the US,” Cousin Ray schooled me, “that ain’t fraud. That’s enhanced investment techniques.”

The Dallas Morning News reports that the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park is blaming the manufacturer for a death on the Texas Giant roller coaster and the German manufacturer is blaming Six Flags. Rosa Esparza, 52, died when she fell from the ride, which has now re-opened with long lines. Cousin Ray complained that those rides are only supposed to simulate a near death experience “and remember, if they make a mistake, that’s not negligence. That’s just enhanced entertainment techniques.”

The Associated Press reported that Glenn Ford, 64, has been released after 26 years on Louisiana’s death row for a murder that happened when, the court found, he was not present. WAFB-TV asked him if he “harbored any resentment?” “Yeah…I’ve been locked up almost 30 years for something I didn’t do.” Mr. Ford was, according to Cousin Ray, “plainly a victim of enhanced prosecution techniques.”

This column is finished in Tahlequah, where I came to get my tribal photo ID. Cousin Ray just about missed the wrap-up, and when he got back, he explained the Cherokee Marshal Service had stopped him. I sighed and asked him how much the ticket would cost this time? “I didn’t get a ticket,” Ray said proudly, “I convinced the marshal that all he saw were enhanced traveling techniques.”