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How Did I Miss That? Saving Bison; Saving Warthogs

In Bull Hollow, Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma, the Cherokee Phoenix reported that the new bison herd tended by Cherokee Nation Natural Resources has dropped the first calf of what are hoped to be many. The Cherokee herd was begun last year with a $70,000 grant from the Intertribal Buffalo Council in Rapid City, matched by an appropriation from the Cherokee government, to cover the infrastructure necessary to care for the iconic beasts. The ITBC now counts over 15,000 head of bison under management in 57 tribal nations as they work to bring the American bison back from near-extinction.

I was reading in The New York Times about controversies surrounding a young entrepreneur, Joshua Bryce Newman, when a line jumped out I had to share with my cousin Ray Sixkiller: “While the total amount in dispute appears to be relatively small — roughly a few million dollars…”

National Review reported that comedian Sarah Silverman made up an anecdote to demonstrate sex discrimination in pay. Leaving aside the need to make something up when there are boatloads of real data, she actually named a club owner as the malefactor. When she got fact checked, the story fell apart like a Fox News report on Obamacare and she apologized.

Speaking of credibility, The Daily Tribune reported Ustadz Ameril Umbra Kato, leader of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) is dead, quoting Philippine military sources as being “99.9 percent” sure. Kato was first reported dead in 2008. He “died” again in 2011. “It’s a duel,” Cousin Ray chortled, “between third time’s the charm and a cat has nine lives.” reported that the U.S. Navy has deployed unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV)—drones—as “force multipliers,” enabling an attack submarine, as one admiral put it, to “essentially be in two places at the same time.” The drones have their own external module at this time, but tests are underway on launching from missile tubes. There are also plans to launch aerial drones from submarines.

In a less optimistic report, Defense Department representatives told Congress that the $400 billion F-35 joint strike fighter will not match the battlefield performance of the A-10 Warthog, which it is intended to replace, for close air support. The F-35 “loitering time” over a battlefield is only 30 minutes and it carries only two air-to-surface bombs. The Warthog, a legendary life-saver for a generation of combat infantry, has a loitering time of 90 minutes and rains hell on the bad guys with a nose cannon.

The F-35 is not killable because the manufacture of parts for the flying white elephant has been spread around too many congressional districts, increasing costs but also increasing political cover. Air Force Maj. Gen. James Post was removed from command and reprimanded for describing the testimony to Congress by airmen supporting the Warthog as “treason.” The official USAF position is that the Warthog should be retired because they can’t afford to keep it flying and phase in the F-35.

Congresswoman Martha McSally (R-Arizona) published an op-ed in The New York Times concluding “if we retire the A-10 before a replacement is developed, American troops will die.” Retired USAF Col. McSally was a Warthog squadron commander with 325 combat hours. Is she guilty of “treason?”

Foreign Policy reported that about 300 troops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade have arrived in western Ukraine to train Ukrainian National Guard troops. This officially begins Operation Fearless Guardian. Who picks these names, anyway? The Army did not bite on Cousin Ray’s suggestion, “Project Pummel Putin.”

Equipment for Fearless Guardian was not airlifted, but rather shipped in a ground convoy from Vicenza, Italy across Austria, Germany, and Poland. This road trip followed another by the 2d Cavalry troops who were rotated out of Estonia, and drove though Lithuania, Poland, and the Czech Republic to get back to their base in Germany. “Our boys do love their road trips,” Cousin Ray smiled.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that Canada will use the forthcoming Arctic Council meeting “to deliver our tough message to Russia for their aggression against Ukraine.” The Chair is about to pass from Canada to the U.S., which wants the nations bordering on the Arctic to focus on climate change cooperation rather than rivalry over other issues. Canada’s leadership on climate change is complicated by the developments in the Alberta tar sands.

Is arrogance contagious? All sports fans can cite arrogant statements by young athletes with too much money. CNN and many other outlets reported on ESPN’s suspension of reporter Britt McHenry after a video went viral of her cruel and obnoxious rant to a tow company clerk that went off on the woman’s intelligence, her teeth, and her weight—comparing them all unfavorably to McHenry’s superior self. CNN points out that McHenry joins other ESPN personalities Keith Olbermann (denigrating Penn State fans), Bill Simmons (calling the NFL Commissioner a liar), and Stephen Smith (accusing domestic violence victims of “provocation”).

KCBD reported that Stacy Jones, 42, of Baker, Louisiana confessed to a sexual relationship with a 15 year old boy that “just happened” when she was giving him a ride to church. I omit most of Cousin Ray’s crack about “what kind of ride she was giving him.”

In other church news, the Victoria Advocate reported that Rev. Darryl Edwards, pastor of the Fannin Street United Methodist Church, was delivering a funeral eulogy. The Advocate quoted his sister Sheila, "He was talking about how you need to be ready for death because you never know the day or hour. And about then, it happened." What happened was Edwards collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack.

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee has set the reauthorization of the National Science Foundation for markup. At this writing, the bill imposes a 45 percent cut in funding for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate. Cousin Ray wondered if social scientists would publish results more friendly to Republican positions, maybe they wouldn’t get their funds cut?

The Sunday New York Times online came with a video report from Hawaii on how solar panels disrupt the utilities that currently operate the grid. The utilities complain that they are required to maintain generating and storage capacity they have no way to pay for if most people most of the time are feeding the grid rather than buying power from it.

The utilities want to pay less for power sold to the grid than they charge for power bought from the grid. Storage and distribution of backup power is as much a hidden cost of renewable and distributed power as CO2 pollution is to fossil fuels. The cost of grid backup is either necessary or not. If it’s not, disconnect. If it is, who’s going to pay for it?

The New York Times covered the murder and conspiracy trial of the entire leadership of Golden Dawn, a racist and neo-fascist party that has emerged from the seamy underbelly of Greek politics to be the third largest bloc in parliament. Like the fascists before WWII, Golden Dawn blamed economic distress on immigrants. They became a force in 2012, during the first Greek debt crisis. “Gee whiz,” Cousin Ray commented with tongue in cheek, “I’m sure glad no politicians in the U.S. blame immigrants for our problems.”

Politico solved the question of why Marco Rubio would dare to take on Jeb Bush. What Politico called “Marco Rubio’s Secret Weapon” is 82-year-old billionaire Norman Braman, who likes Rubio but also has a grudge against Bush for vetoing an appropriation for the Braman Breast Cancer Institute at the University of Miami, which Braman had endowed with more money than the sum Bush vetoed in a general bout of thriftiness.

It’s ironic that Braman’s generally anti-tax, one of those guys who wants a government small enough to drown in the bath water. But this time, his ox was gored and he’s reportedly prepared to spend $25 million or more to keep Rubio in the race.

Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court shooting down limits on campaign financing, we are going to have the best government money can buy. The disclosure requirements the SCOTUS opinion anticipated never happened, and so Super-PACs run on “dark money.” Nor will Congress require publicly traded corporations to report political donations to shareholders now that corporate persons have the same rights as human persons to buy politicians.

On the same issue at the tribal government level, kudos to the Cherokee Phoenix for publishing links to all the financial disclosure statements of all the candidates. Incumbent Chief Bill John Baker raised more money than everybody else put together and given how far out the election is, Baker looks poised to become a million dollar candidate at $836,536.99. So far, he’s crushed former Chief Chad Smith 8 to 1. Charlie Soap and Will Fourkiller together do not equal Smith. “If the U.S. gets the best government money can buy,” Cousin Ray muttered ruefully, “why not the Cherokee Nation?”