Sunday, January 23, 2011

Last Call: Say You're Lion To Me

(CNN) -- As you will see in our TED talk, Beverly and I have spent enough time in the bush with lions to understand that we have a problem -- rapidly declining big cat populations.
The real miracle is that we do still have this last remnant of lions at all. Just 50 years ago there were 450,000; today there are possibly as few as 20,000. These are the last lions. 
Editor's note: TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to "Ideas worth spreading," which it makes available through talks posted on its websiteBeverly and Dereck Joubert, who are National Geographic explorers in residence based in Botswana, have filmed and photographed wildlife and nature for nearly 30 years. They have received five Emmys, as well as other awards. 
Two experts in the field  are saying we could see the last of the lions in our lifetime.  This video is sobering and sad.  I honestly had no idea the numbers had dwindled down to this degree.  

How To Win Friends And Influence Supreme Court Justices

You can start by giving $680,000 to a justice's wife over five years and not reporting the income to the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas failed to report his wife's income from a conservative think tank on financial disclosure forms for at least five years, the watchdog group Common Cause said Friday.

Between 2003 and 2007, Virginia Thomas, a longtime conservative activist, earned $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, according to a Common Cause review of the foundation's IRS records. Thomas failed to note the income in his Supreme Court financial disclosure forms for those years, instead checking a box labeled "none" where "spousal noninvestment income" would be disclosed.

A Supreme Court spokesperson could not be reached for comment late Friday. But Virginia Thomas' employment by the Heritage Foundation was well known at the time.

Virginia Thomas also has been active in the group Liberty Central, an organization she founded to restore the "founding principles" of limited government and individual liberty.

In his 2009 disclosure, Justice Thomas also reported spousal income as "none." Common Cause contends that Liberty Central paid Virginia Thomas an unknown salary that year.

And hey, what do you know, on basically every case Thomas sided with conservatives.  I'd like to see Thomas's decisions versus Heritage Foundation position papers and amicus briefs.  I bet they're almost an exact match, if not identical.

I'm sure it's just a five-year long coincidence, right?  There's no conflict of interest here or anything.

The best Supreme Court money can buy.

Straw Mitt Argument

Mitt Romney was the clear winner in Saturday's New Hampshire GOP straw poll for 2012, taking 35% of the vote.  The top ten vote getters:

Mitt Romney 35.14%
Ron Paul 10.51%
Tim Pawlenty 7.61%
Sarah Palin 6.88%
Michele Bachmann 5.07%
Jim DeMint 5.07%
Herman Cain 3.99%
Chris Christie 3.26%
Rick Santorum 3.26%
Mitch Daniels 2.90%

Of course, that means 65% of Republicans in New Hampshire think Mitt sucks.  Going to be really interesting to see what happens, considering 5% of New Hampshire's GOP muckity-mucks want to see Michele Bachmann as president.

If guys like Mitch Daniels, John Thune, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich are coming in behind Rick Santorum and the Bachmanniac, and getting less than 3% of the vote (and my math shows 16.31% of the total vote was split among at least 10 other people) there's no hope for a "moderate" GOP at all, folks...unless you think Romney's going to survive.  Once the rest of the field realizes the game's wide open once Mittens has to be made to exit, it's going to be the craziest winger left standing in 2012.

A Little Sunshine

The birth of a big litter of African wild dog puppies at Illinois' Brookfield Zoo late last year is great news for their endangered species. The litter, born to 6-year-old mother Kim and 4-year-old father Digger on Thanksgiving, contains a whopping 10 healthy puppies who were examined by a zoo veterinarian on Thursday.

That is direct from the L.A. Times.  It doesn't make up for the ugliness of the earlier post, but it helps.  Enjoy the puppies, folks.  Happy animal stories always help counter the ugliness out there.

Never Going To Happen

A McClatchy analysis of WikiLeaks' State Department cables makes it clear that there was no way Congress was ever going to allow a single Gitmo detainee into a prison on US soil despite what President Obama had to say about keeping his first major promise as a new President.

In cable after cable sent to the State Department in Washington, American diplomats make it clear that the unwillingness of the United States to resettle a single detainee in this country — even from among 17 ethnic Muslim Uighurs considered enemies of China's communist government — made other countries reluctant to take in detainees.

Europe balked and said the United States should go first. Yemen at one point proposed the United States move the detainees from Cuba to America's SuperMax prison in the Colorado Rockies. Saudi Arabia's king suggested the military plant micro-chips in Guantanamo captives before setting them free.

A January 2009 cable from Paris is a case in point: France's chief diplomat on security matters insisted, the cable said, that, as a precondition of France's resettling Guantanamo captives the United States wants to let go, "the U.S. must agree to resettle some of these same LOW-RISK DETAINEES in the U.S.'' In the end, France took two.

In the end we sent a couple dozen detainees to other countries in an effort to try to clear Gitmo, but Congress eventually forced Obama's hand.

Under the Defense Department appropriations bill that Obama signed into law two weeks ago, the administration not only can't use Pentagon funds to bring detainees to the United States for trial, but must certify that countries meet a set of security conditions before the U.S. can send detainees to them.

In a signing statement, Obama objected to those restrictions, but he did not say he'd ignore them.

So the bottom line is that since Congress is petrified that trying any of the detainees left in Gitmo...even under military tribunals...may lead to one of them not being found guilty and released, they will never be tried, and kept forever there.

Gitmo will be open for at least my lifetime, and probably your children and your grandchildren too.

Wonder Whaaaa?

David E. Kelley's Wonder Woman series gets a green light. The only problem is, this Diana is so far from my favorite heroine that it's not even funny.  And I mean that.

A mere two weeks after every network passed on it, David E. Kelley's Wonder Woman has been lassoed in by NBC. The pilot features Diana Prince as a harried crime fighter/corporate executive saving Los Angeles from itself.

Does the take her invisible jet to work?  Oy.  I am compelled to watch it, but I'm casting odds that this won't take off well.  Pun intended.
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