How Did I Miss That? Panda Trifecta; Dumbing Virus

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On October 29, three giant panda cubs celebrated 100 days of life at Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou, China. Besides being representatives of an endangered species, the three are triplets, and so far the only panda triplets of four known sets that all survived this long. The two males and one female each weigh more than 11 pounds and have two teeth. Public suggestions are being solicited for names. Hearing this, my cousin Ray Sixkiller read up on the names of other panda cubs born in captivity and came up with Aw Aw, Dat Dat, and Cute Cute.

One hundred days is a milestone in the small world of panda breeding. The cub born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington was named Bao Bao at 100 days. Twin panda cubs born at Zoo Atlanta were named at 100 days Mei Lun and Mei Huan, after a public competition. Cousin Ray was last seen studying Chinese for Dummies.

“Survivalist” Eric Frein, accused of shooting two Pennsylvania state troopers because they were state troopers, was taken off the FBI Most Wanted list when he was arrested without incident at an abandoned airport. He had been on the run for 48 days after driving his Jeep into a pond during his getaway. The day after Frein’s apprehension, the Lehigh Valley Express-Times reported that Laa-Laa, the yellow Teletubbie, was arrested for breaking into a house and stealing leftover Chinese food from the fridge. Neither arrestee resisted.

Were it not for the ease of killing from ambush, Frein’s story would be as humorous as the Teletubbie burglar. What kind of “survivalist” drives his getaway Jeep into a pond and leaves his belongings both in the Jeep and strewn around the woods, telling the police where to search? Cousin Ray pointed out that Frein was also cleverer than the Teletubbie because “he was wearing camo.”

The New Yorker busted McDonald’s “Our Food; Your Questions” page for sticking “grass-fed” in scare quotes and claiming feedlot cattle are partially grass-fed because all cows start on grass. The issue in feedlots is that the corn and minerals cocktail has to be chased with antibiotics because it makes cattle sick, not being what they have evolved to eat. Taking Mickey D’s argument at face value, all beef is grass-fed. So there’s no reason to be alarmed by antibiotics in your meat and the Europeans are being silly when they line up to dine in Argentine steak houses.

On October 27, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported discovery of a virus indigenous to algae that can infect human beings and live in the human throat. When it does, there is no obvious illness but the humans harboring the virus have measurably less cognitive ability and a shorter attention span than a matched uninfected group. Infecting mice and measuring abilities before and after infection confirmed the human observations. “What’s the big deal about this virus,” my cousin Ray Sixkiller wanted to know, “when it has exactly the same effect as video games?”

In another case of dumbing down, Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal reported that Tesla sales are dropping and the company is starting to offer “incentives” like other carmakers. The “incentive” was a sweet lease deal though U.S. Bancorp that assumed a higher residual value for the car! Credit Suisse stock analyst Daniel Galves called the Journal hit job “too misleading to ignore” after Tesla stock dipped 6 percent. Tesla founder Elon Musk tweeted that the report on sales was incorrect and Jeff Siegel put it more colorfully in Energy and Capital: “Tesla has been a punching bag for every ignorant bureaucrat and knuckle-dragging media whore that wants to believe nothing more than the illusion that electric cars are glorified golf cars designed for wealthy eccentrics and overzealous treehuggers.”

In the case of a grown man who needed a weapon to discipline a four year old, the Associated Press reported that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson copped a plea to misdemeanor assault with a probation sentence in advance of his trial for felony child abuse. All officials involved in the case stated that Peterson got no special treatment and most recited the lines with a straight face. The Vikings have been paying Peterson but not playing him pending the resolution of the felony charges, so he was expected to pay his $4,000 fine out of change in his sofa cushions.

The Montgomery County, Texas Courier reported that Heather Hodges, 28, was sentenced to three years in prison for planting a gun in a 13 year old child’s backpack and then calling his school to report it. She thought this was a good idea because the 13 year old was making trouble for her children, ages seven and four. “Too bad for her she did not get the NFL discount,” Cousin Ray snarked.

Before leaving the NFL, we must observe that Tom Brady’s Boy Scout image may have taken a small hit when an ecstatic Brady was caught on a live ESPN mic exclaiming, “Unbelievable! How the (expletive) did you catch that?” to Rob Gronkowski, who had just made an unbelievable one-handed fingertip grab.

The Associated Press reported on a series of recorded telephone conversations that show the no-fly zone declared over the protests in Ferguson, Missouri was about keeping the media out rather than protecting the public. In addition to the recording, the shooting at police helicopters that was claimed at the time cannot be documented beyond “rumors.” Cousin Ray barely kept a straight face when he commented, “I am shocked, shocked to hear that the police don’t want the public to witness their highly restrained and reluctant use of force against people protesting police misconduct.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that Ghoncheh Ghavami, 25, has been sentenced to a year in jail for protesting Iran’s ban on women attending volleyball games. Her lawyer was never allowed to meet with her outside the courtroom, and Amnesty International claims she was beaten during her arrest for “propaganda against the regime.”

The Guardian reported that according to a report prepared for the UN Security Council, approximately 15,000 people from 80 countries have traveled to the Middle East to fight for ISIS. It was not reported how many of them were women who enjoy attending sporting events.

Free Syrian Army rebels have been “routed” by Jabhat al-Nusra, an organization that is “moderate” in the sense it remains affiliated with Al Qaeda Prime, according to The Washington Post. The Free Syrian Army was endorsed early by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who advocated arming and training them, which the Obama administration has done. “The Free Syrian Army,” Cousin Ray said glumly, “must have gotten the same training the Iraqi Army got.”

The Free Syrian Army is losing public support in Syria for being associated with the U.S., whose bombing of the so-called Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra fighters indirectly benefits the dictator Bashar al-Assad. The arms shipped to allegedly moderate Syrian rebels are falling into the hands of Al Qaeda just like the arms shipped to the Iraqi Army fell into the hands of ISIS.

The Cable reported that the U.S. State Department has cut off the relative chump change (half a million) devoted to the Commission for International Justice and Accountability for gathering evidence of war crimes by Bashar al-Assad. “Let’s see,” pondered Cousin Ray, “people are fighting for Al Qaeda with U.S. arms. The U.S. better hope there is no accountability.”

Navy Times reported that the F-35C Lightning II, the Navy version of the embattled Joint Strike Fighter, has made a successful carrier launch and landing. “Who cares whether the thing works?,” asked Cousin Ray. “The GOP took the Senate, so no weapons systems are going to get cancelled.”

Loren Thompson commented in Forbes that we should not “expect anyone in the defense sector to be talking in public this week about what a good night it was for the industry on Tuesday. But it was.”

In a case of disappearing money closer to home, NBC reported on the plague of low dollar-high interest loan sharks surrounding reservations. Gallup, a border town to the Navajo Reservation, has the highest concentration of such lenders in New Mexico. The NBC report documented predatory lending that I know was common in 1973, when my school sent law students to internships on the reservation. “Tax refund season,” Cousin Ray reminded me, “is like bloody chum in the water for loan sharks.” NBC pointed out that tribal ordinances prohibit predatory lending where state laws do not, leading to feeding frenzies among loan sharks in border towns.

Shannon Speed (Chickasaw) published an op-ed in Al Jazeera America hailing passage of the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act (to exclude the value of tribal services from federal taxation) as “an important governmental acknowledgement of tribal sovereignty.” Cousin Ray, having heard lots of “governmental acknowledgements of tribal sovereignty” in his life, said the important thing is “this time it’s an act, not more words.”