In a rare moment of bipartisanship, Republicans and Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee yesterday applauded U.S. wildlife officials for their decision not to set aside protected habitat areas for an endangered species of bats.
“All of America’s wildlife are important, and we’re as worried about our bat population as anyone, but if we had to let one species go, it should probably be the bats,” Rob Bishop (R-Utah), chair of the committee, said yesterday. “While we hope the Department of Fish and Wildlife can work out a way to protect imperiled bats, if they can’t, we understand.”
“Not all animals get protected habitat, it’s as simple as that,” said Jim Costa (D-Calif.), a senior member of the committee. “Setting aside an area is expensive. And we’re in a budget crunch. So, the bats are going to have to manage on their own for now. Sorry.”
At issue is an effort by conservationists to get the federal government to designate the caves of the northern long-eared bat a critical habitat. The bats have been decimated in recent years by the spread of a fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, a deadly disease.
Federal officials say the designation of certain caves as critical habitat won’t help the bats, because it will attract vandals. But conservationists say the federal government is biased against bats because they’re ugly. “I can assure you, if we were talking about bunnies, we would not be having this fight,” says Jennifer Smith, president of the Conservation League in Washington. “The government is trying to save money on the backs of our bats—our hideous, grotesque, anatomically disgusting bats.”
Costa called on conversationists to give up the fight. “We have bipartisan agreement on this,” he said. “The bats are on their own.”
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The American Association of Game Animals released a statement today calling Antonin Scalia a “titan” of American jurisprudence, but because the Supreme Court justice, who died earlier this week, was an avid hunter, the group does not mourn his death. “Had Justice Scalia engaged in a hobby that did not involve the hunting and shooting of birds and anaimals, we would be as saddened by his death as anyone,” the group said in its statement. “But because his hobby involved the hunting and shooting of birds and animals, we instead breathe a sigh of relief that there is one less person in this country who will be coming after us with rifle in hand with the sole purpose of felling us to the ground.” More.
After what they call eight years of failed American foreign policy by the Obama administration, House Republican leaders say it’s time to spin off the country’s diplomacy and statesmanship to the private sector. “The United States was built by our world-leading companies,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said at a press conference in the Capitol this morning. “The government doesn’t build Chevrolets. General Motors does. The country doesn’t make computers. Apple does. Today, it’s time to unleash our private sector on our foreign policy and do what our government has never been able to do: create peace and prosperity around the world.” Under the plan Ryan and other leaders unveiled, the heads of GM, AT&T, Citibank, and other multinational corporations would work with leaders of countries around the world to replace war with peace and confrontation with cooperation. More.
NASA today released a stunning image of the famous “Martian face” rock formation in which the “mouth” appears to be turned upward, as if smiling. The image was taken about 12 hours after a previous image of the mouth-like crevice is shown expressing no particular emotion in a way that’s similar to thousands of previous pictures of the formation that have been taken. “It’s really a remarkable image sequence,” says Kristin Rogers, NASA chief of geological imaging. “We are starting with the assumption that the change in appearance is simply a change in the angle of light on the surface features. But we’re not prepared to say that with certainty, because it’s a shift we haven’t seen before.” More.
U.S. President Barack Obama said today in an interview with the foreign press that it’s been a tough seven years and he still has one more to go, but he takes comfort knowing it will soon be over and and he can go back to Kenya. “That’s what keeps me going,” he said. The first black president of the United States said adjusting to life in America has not been easy, even though he’s lived here most of his life. But he thinks he did a good job as president and would like to run for the presidency of Kenya in a few years, if the people of his native country will have him. “Winning election in Kenya is not quite as straight-forward as it is here,” he said. “Here, you give a few speeches and, if people like your style, you become well-known and then you just compete in primaries and caucuses held by the states. More.
Calling clowns creepy and not funny, lawmkers in both houses of Congress today passed legislation outlawing entertainers who wear makeup, big red noses, and floppy shoes in a belief that people find them funny. “I know there’s a tradition, dating back to the days of court jesters, of entertaining audiences by wearing costumes and makeup in goofy ways while engaging in antics, often with balls or bicycles,” says Rep. Snowden Baxter (R-Texas), principal sponsor the legislation. “But not all traditions are destined to survive in perpetuity, and clowns are one of those traditions whose time should come to an end.” Baxter pointed to overwhelming support from members of both parties for his bill and cited it as an example of the kinds of things Congress can get done when the need is clear and compelling. More.
Manufacturers and technology companies have failed to blanket the living environment with blinking lights and bleeping noises even though they’ve had the capability to do so for many years, the world says. Until enough blinking lights and bleeping noises fill all living spaces at all times, there will be operations and processes that won’t be sufficiently signaled for people the world over to be sufficiently signaled about every process and operation. “As hard as it is to believe, it’s possible today to go from your home to your car without being signaled by a blinking light or a bleeping noise alerting you to an operation or process that has occurred and that could affect you,” says the world. “Has the newspaper arrived at your doorstep? Have your sprinklers been turned on to water your grass? These are the kinds of processes and operations today that remain un-signaled with a blinking light or bleeping noise. More.
Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon Ronald Madison has studied the brain of Republican presidential nomination front-runner Donald Trump and says it really is a “big, beautiful” specimen of human’s most important organ. “When Donald Trump compliments his own brain, he does so on good grounds,” says Madison, who studied Trump’s brain in 2013, when the real estate mogul went to the Mayo Clinic for tests. Madison says Trump was complaining of “low energy” and wanted to rule out anything neurological, so he arranged to have a battery of tests done. “What I found was, of all the brains I’ve seen, Trump’s was certainly one of the biggest and most beautiful ever,” he says. “It’s a very good brain.” More.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said yesterday on CNN that the death threats some delegates have received from supporters of Donald Trump are just “part of the fun” of this year’s rollicking nomination process. “No one’s really going to stick a gun barrel down your throat,” Priebus told CNN Correspondent Jamie Gangel on her news program. “When people tell delegates they ‘know where they live,’ that doesn’t mean they’re going to show up at their door while they’re eating their cereal. It just means they care passionately about the democratic process and love their country.” More.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said if he’s elected president he would waste no time in shutting down the federal government, something he tried but failed to do three years ago as a member of the U.S. Senate. “The reason I tried to shut down the government three years ago is still present today,” Cruz said yesterday at a campaign stop in Harrisonburg, Pa. “Obamacare. Nothing has changed. That’s why, on Day One, I’m turning out the lights and locking the door to the federal government.” Cruz embarked on a 21-hour filibuster in October 2013 to prevent a Senate vote on a bill to raise the ceiling on the amount of debt the United States government can incur. In years past, periodic increases in the debt ceiling passed routinely, regardless of who was in the White House. More.
The backlash to North Carolina’s anti-LGBT religious freedom law continues as Nickelback, One Direction, Insane Clown Posse, and several other bands not on tour say they refuse to play in the state until it repeals its controversial law. “If we were on tour right now, we would not play in the state in solidarity with fellow bands that are touring and taking a financial hit by not playing in the state,” sys Chad Kroeger, lead singer and guitarist with Nickelback, which last put out an album in 2014. Insane Clown Posse, a rap duo that isn’t on tour, has also announced a boycott of the state. “No way are we playing in North Carolina,” says Joseph Bruce, also known as Violent J. More.
GOTHAM CITY—Several of America’s greatest superheroes, including Superman and Spider-Man, say they “feel dumb” wearing tights and other “design affectations” like capes and masks and have agreed among themselves to stop doing it. “I’ve never been comfortable flying in my tights,” says Superman, also known as the man of steel. “I started wearing the costume in the late 1930s because I needed to protect my identity. But I also needed to convey a sense of separateness, otherwise people would constantly come to me and say they want to stop trains and out-run bullets. But the world has changed. Today, we have smartphones and tablets. People have moved on. What’s important today is authenticity.” More.