Awww. Livescience reported the birth of a southern pudu (Pudu puda), the second smallest deer species in the world, at the Wildlife Conservation Society Queens Zoo in Flushing, New York. The newborn was six inches tall and weighed less than two pounds, but is expected to grow twice that tall.
Southern pudu are indigenous to Chile and Argentina. The smallest deer species is a northern cousin, Pudu mephistophiles, native to Ecuador, Peru, and Columbia.
My own northern cousin, Ray Sixkiller, observed, “Those South Americans sure eat small portions of venison.”
NJ.Com reported that Thomas Bacon, 19, of Madison was charged with simple assault on another individual who allegedly ate Bacon’s last piece of sausage. “I’m betting,” Cousin Ray snickered, “that somebody egged him on.” I was beginning to think my cousin must have uncharacteristically missed lunch.
Ronnie Gilbert has walked on at age 88, following Lee Hays and Pete Seeger and leaving Fred Hellerman, also 88, the only surviving member of The Weavers. They anticipated the folk music revival by a generation and sold records like the proverbial hotcakes until accused by the Joe McCarthy pimping scandal rag, Red Channels, of being Communists.
The Weavers sold out Carnegie Hall with a reunion concert in 1980, and Ronnie Gilbert subsequently toured with Holly Near and with a folk music super-group called HARP, for Holly Near, Arlo Guthrie, Ronnie Gilbert, and Pete Seeger.
Ronnie Gilbert is survived by her daughter, her granddaughter and her former wife Donna Korones. They married in a brief window of opportunity in 2004, but the California Supreme Court declared those marriages invalid. Ronnie Gilbert: A Radical Life in Song, her memoir, is scheduled for publication this year by the University of California Press.
Cousin Ray the Republican was skewering The New York Times for not front-paging the results of an Environmental Protection Agency investigation of fracking and drinking water. BloombergBusiness, which ran the EPA news more prominently, reported that the EPA found “no widespread, systemic pollution” of drinking water attributable to fracking.
This time, I’m with the Republicans. The Times has reported allegations that fracking imperils the supply of potable water often enough that data contrary to that position deserves similar prominence. It’s like front-paging the perp walk and then burying the “not guilty.”
Of course, I was offended when Gasland used an obvious casing leak to suggest that fracking allows people to light up their tap water. A casing can leak whether or not the well is fracked.
There’s no need to twist the science to point out real risks in fracking. Oil and gas companies point out that prudent methods are “too expensive.” In a sane world, the translation of that would be “fracking is too expensive.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dared to tell a truth as troublesome for good government as his remark after the 2008 election that his number one priority was to make Barack Obama a one-term president. Regarding many vacancies on the federal courts, “the only judges we’ve confirmed have been federal district judges that have been signed off on by Republican senators.”
Foreign Policy reported that of some 3,500 Humvees (3,000 armored) given to the Iraqi army by the U.S., over 2,300 of them are now serving ISIS, and up-armored Humvees make the very best suicide bombs. It’s unclear whether the 3,500 figure includes Humvees left behind when U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq. It is clear that ISIS has enough Humvees to sacrifice them to suicide bombing. The markings confuse defenders, the armor protects the driver and the roomy interior allows for tons of Boom!
Foreign Policy reassured the Iraqis that the Pentagon has ordered an additional 2,082 Humvees with 265 earmarked for Iraq and Sam will also be providing 250 mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles to replace the MRAPs captured by ISIS. Cousin Ray heaved a sigh and wondered whether the Cherokee Nation could donate the MRAP it got from the feds?
After ISIS terrorized the Ramadi defenders with Humvee-bombs, U.S. air assets attacked an ISIS Humvee-to-bomb factory, resulting in “a cataclysmic chain of secondary explosions that allegedly could be heard in Kirkuk, 34 miles away.” Central Command claimed to be investigating whether there were civilian casualties. D’ya think? On the other hand, either they got the bomb factory or all the cooking oil in northern Iraq just blew up.
U.S. troops have now been fighting ISIS since August with Congress still unable to pass an authorization for use of military force or demand an end to the fight.
UPI reported that the Supreme Court of our ally in the War on Terror, Saudi Arabia, has affirmed the sentencing of blogger Raif Badawi to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam though electronic channels.”
This was a fine victory of freedom of expression because the prosecutors had moved to charge Badawi, webmaster of The Liberal Saudi Network, with “apostasy,” which carries the death penalty. He has so far received the first installment of 50 lashes.
Flogging is a common sentence in Saudi Arabia for both men and women and—surprising for such a prudish place—the women are usually flogged by men on either bare skin or with only a thin cloth covering. A doctor examines the floggee before each installment. Women normally get installments of not more than 30. Slate published an examination of flogging in the Middle East some years ago and only found two deaths, neither in Saudi Arabia.
NBC reported from our other dear friend in the Middle East, Israel, that fundamentalist newspapers doctored photos of Benjamin Netanyahu’s new cabinet to make it appear all male. The last two women removed by religious censors were German Chancellor Anglea Merkel and…er….ah….famous person Kim Kardashian. Mr. Netanyahu in fact has three women in his cabinet: Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Culture Minister Miri Regev and Minister for Senior Citizens Gila Gamliel. Ironically, Ms. Gamliel is also Israel's first Minister for Gender Equality.
Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has written a book blurb for The A.R.K Report, by Harry Moskoff, who calls himself a “Jewish Indiana Jones.” Without formal training in history or archaeology, Moskoff claims to have discovered the location of the Ark of the Covenant. If that wasn’t enough, Mother Jones reports Moskoff’s claim that the CIA is interfering with archaeological research because it would strengthen Israel’s claim to disputed territory.
“So,” Cousin Ray griped, “you’re going to report that and not tell where this guy claims he found the Ark?”
Oh, all right. Moskoff claims the Ark of the Covenant has been hiding for millennia in the most obvious place: underneath the courtyard of the First Temple in Jerusalem.
Conveniently enough, the exact location of the First Temple is not known. It was destroyed some time between 587 and 422 B.C.E. and the ruins lie somewhere under sites sacred to Christians and to Muslims. This traffic jam of the three Abrahamic faiths guarantees no digging and no way to verify Moskoff’s claims….unless Huckabee is elected POTUS and decides to send SEAL Team Six after the Lost Ark.
The Wall Street Journal reported a shake up in the Jeb Bush campaign has moved Danny Diaz into the manager role. Diaz has never played at national level but he has a rep for aggressive tactics some would call the dark arts of politics. His biggest win to date made Susana Martinez the Republican governor of New Mexico. The last national GOP candidate to seriously contest the Hispanic vote was George W. Bush, whose Spanish is as poor as my own. Jeb is fluent he intends to do at least as well as his brother.
American Pharoah brought home the Triple Crown by five and a half lengths in the Belmont Stakes, becoming the first winner in 37 years and only the 12th ever. Owner Ahmed Zayat proved it’s better to be lucky than smart. Zayat almost lost Pharoah to repossession before birth in 2010 when he defaulted a loan on his stables from Fifth Third Bank. Taking the stables into bankruptcy, he was able to renegotiate terms. The bank would have gotten both of Pharoah’s parents.
Then, in 2013, Zayat actually put Pharoah into an auction ring, but nobody bid the reserve price, $300,000. Zayat still owns Pharoah’s sire, Pioneerof the Nile (so called to keep the number of digits in his name within the rules), whose stud fee of $60,000 is expected to top $100,000 with Pharoah’s Triple Crown.
In the wake of corruption indictments against the leadership of Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), NBC reported speculation that World Cups may be taken away from Russia and Qatar because of bribery. “What I want to know,” Cousin Ray asked, “is whether Russia and Qatar will get their money back?”
National Public Radio reported that the U.S. Department of Defense paid the National Football League more than $5 million between 2011 and 2014 for what most fans thought were spontaneous salutes to the troops and recognition of “Hometown Heroes.”
Props to the racist Washington team for not appearing on the list of teams on the take to appear patriotic with the Falcons, Ravens, Bills, Bengals, Browns, Cowboys, Forty Niners, Packers, Colts, Chiefs, Dolphins, Vikings, Saints, Jets, Steelers, and Rams.
“Too bad the Patriots weren’t on the take,” Cousin Ray commented. “They could be forced to donate their name to the Washington team. The Washington team still needs a non-racist name. How about Pharoahs? That misspelling is going to be immortal!”