The San Diego Zoo announced on March 13 that Imani, 18, was too long in labor with her first baby. Even though no veterinarians on the zoo staff had experience, they decided after consulting with (human) neonatal specialists from the University of California-San Diego Medical Center to attempt a C-section. Good call. She’s a baby girl of the species G.g. gorilla, a critically endangered western lowland gorilla, full term at 4.6 pounds. Not yet named, the newborn had a collapsed lung at birth, and she has been treated for pneumonia.
El Paso Inc. reported that Emily García, who got ten years probation seven months ago for stealing $200,000 from the El Paso Boys and Girls Club, has paid only $50 toward restitution and performed nothing toward 200 hours of community service ordered. García said she hadn’t paid because thieves have a hard time finding work but didn’t have much to say about why she lacked free time to begin community service. The judge sent her to jail for 10 days to think about it. My Cousin Ray Sixkiller asked me if I miss being a full time judge? No.
KAUZ reported that Jerry Joe Garza, 40, on trial in Wichita Falls for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, repeatedly disrupted the proceedings, leading presiding Judge Barney Fudge to order Garza’s mouth duct-taped shut. Cousin Ray accused me of using this item so I could mention the judge’s name. No. I am demonstrating another of the many uses for duct tape.
The Associated Press reported that Indiana residents Robert Paul Palmer, 37, and Tamica Lynn Jeffers, 33, were arrested for child endangerment when they took two young children to a Green Township, Ohio, Mickey D’s. OK, that’s not the whole story. Palmer and Jeffers suffered “life threatening overdoses of heroin” after fixing while the kids enjoyed the indoor play area. “Whew,” said a relieved Cousin Ray,” for a minute there I thought the government was coming down on the Ronald McDonald Diet.”
The New York Times reported that a letter signed by 500 economists in opposition to President Obama’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour was put together by the National Restaurant Association, working from a list of conservative economists and releasing the letter from a website controlled by a Washington lobbying firm. Several signers confirmed they had no idea the Restaurant Association was behind the letter, but none took back the sentiments expressed. Cousin Ray said he hadn’t known Ronald McDonald is an economist.
In other wage news, Reuters reported that rises in US CEO pay have declined to 1 percent in 2013, for a median salary of only $8.64 million. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) blamed President Obama and expressed shock at this “abuse of our most productive citizens.” He promised hearings into “salarygate.”
Farhad Manjoo published in the March 20 New York Times expressing his happiness at having turned off one of his computer monitors. Manjoo recognized that his experience runs against studies claiming two monitors increase productivity. Those studies were sponsored by Dell, NEC, and other makers of hardware, leading Cousin Ray to point out that asking them if you need another monitor “is like asking the National Restaurant Association if we need to raise the minimum wage.”
The New York Times business page compared two communities half a day’s drive apart. The median household income in Fairfax County, Virginia, is $107,000; McDowell County, West Virginia, income is a fifth of that. The life expectancy for men and women in Fairfax County is 82 and 85; the same numbers for McDowell County are 64 and 73. The correlation between income and life expectancy holds across the country. Cousin Ray shook his head. “They sure went to a lot of trouble to find something that hits you in the face on Indian reservations.”
In related news from the other side of the world, The New York Times reported that the cleanup at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster is being conducted by “the unskilled and destitute,” leading to unnecessary and scary errors. “Tepco,” Cousin Ray said of the Japanese company in charge, “is hiring unskilled people willing to risk radiation poisoning for low pay. We better keep them away from here.”
Director Diego Luna appeared on Morning Joe March 18 to flog his new film, César Chávez. When I worked for the United Farm Workers, it did not escape my notice that I was surrounded by people of indigenous blood. Farm labor is low status labor, and UFW organizers quickly learned that some crews spoke no Spanish, let alone English.
The Music and Arts Section of the New York Daily News derived a feature article from Carl Hoffman’s book, Savage Harvest, based on the claim that Michael Rockefeller, presumed drowned off the New Guinea coast in 1961, was in fact the main course at a BBQ. “The Daily News would print anything to sell papers,” Cousin Ray commented, “except human meat recipes.” He piped down when I pointed out they did offer butchering details.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) pronounced himself pleased to appear on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s sanctions list in retaliation for U.S. sanctions on Russians. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) accused Democrats of paying bribes to get on Putin’s enemies list, and promised to have hearings on “sanctiongate.”
KTRK reported that a 13-year-old girl is charged with an unspecified felony in Raleigh, North Carolina, for posting a video on Instagram of a 14-year-old friend having consensual sex with a 17-year-old boy. The boy is also facing charges. “These kids just don’t understand,” Cousin Ray admonished, “how damaging this knowledge is to the adults in their lives.”
Fred Phelps Sr., 84, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, died this week in Topeka, Kansas. The Westboro Baptist Church is noted for picketing the funerals of fallen soldiers to celebrate their deaths. They also picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepard, the University of Wyoming student who was tortured and killed for his sexual orientation, and they showed up at Elizabeth Edwards’ funeral with a sign reading “Thank God for Breast Cancer,” the disease that took Edwards. There have so far been no threats to picket Phelps’ funeral.
The Army Times on March 18 listed the names and exploits of 24 GIs who will receive the Medal of Honor for actions in WWII, Vietnam, and Korea. Each GI had previously received the Distinguished Service Cross. In 2002, Congress ordered a review of those cases to determine if Jewish American and Hispanic American troops were denied the highest honor because of prejudice. This became a general review. Of the 24 new Medal of Honor recipients, only three are living.
A tanker full of oil was stolen by armed men at the direction of Libyan warlord Ibrahim Jathran and was sailing around the Mediterranean under various flags attempting to sell the oil, ignoring pleas and bluster by the Libyan government. President Obama quietly ordered the U.S. military to aid Libya Sunday night. Within hours, a SEAL team deployed from the missile destroyer Roosevelt had seized the vessel and put it under control of U.S. Navy sailors for delivery to a Libyan port. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) denounced the “fecklessness” of the action and promised hearings into the “cover-up.”
Foreign Policy has procured a copy of a report on the Army’s $11 billion battlefield intelligence system that Congress has been trying to get for eight months. The elusive internal report shows that a system available off the shelf from a Silicon Valley upstart, Palantir Technologies, is simpler and works better at a cost of millions rather than billions. A consortium of Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics builds the $11 billion version. “When corporate VIPs stand to benefit and it only costs ten times as much,” Cousin Ray claimed, “that’s a no-brainer.”
Speaking of lacking brains, Al Qaeda’s magazine, Inspire, has published a list of American cities and neighborhoods within cities it wants attacked with car bombs, along with a recipe for the bombs using stuff from your local hardware store. Cousin Ray called it “a political IQ test.”
The Wall Street Journal front-paged a story about the governors appointed by the South Korean government for the provinces of North Korea. They don’t get to visit “their” provinces and they have little to do. Cousin Ray thought, using that logic, the Cherokee Nation could run shadow governments for parts of Georgia and North Carolina. “There’d be enough jobs for the whole family!”
The Wichita State Shockers rolled into March Madness this year 34-0, in a quest for an undefeated season. The undefeated basketball team has brought national attention to its mascot, WuShock, who once appeared on a top ten list of “ugliest mascots” compiled by Sports Illustrated. WuShock represents, people have to be told, a shock of wheat. “Since the Shockers prove that a winning team doesn’t need a recognizable mascot,” Cousin Ray suggested, “maybe the Washington team would settle for a historically accurate bloody scalp?”