Open Thread for Thursday, July 30, 2015

Some stuff for y’all to chew on while I’m doing a bunch of other stuff today:

  1. $1 Million Bail for Officer Held in Killing of Black Driver — And the terrible trend continues.
  2. Columbia’s summer one of hottest in decades — You may have noticed that already.
  3. Slain senator’s widow sets up foundation to honor his causes — The Honorable Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney Foundation would support “religious, educational and charitable causes” that the senator supported. Presumably, that would include expanding Medicaid…
  4. As world mourned Cecil the lion, 5 elephants were slain — Just in case animal lovers want something else to obsess over.
  5. Anyone see James Taylor last night? — I’m just curious. How was he? I haven’t seen him since a concert in Memphis in the early ’80s.
  6. MH370: aircraft debris in Réunion almost certainly from a Boeing 777 — Could it be that they’ve finally found it?

56 thoughts on “Open Thread for Thursday, July 30, 2015

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    4. The implication is that us soft-hearted animal lovers are focusing on high-profile Cecil’s death while ignoring the greater slaughter? Because I believe we can be outraged at the Cecil case–trophy hunting is appalling! These particular facts are especially egregious, but the whole situation of trophy hunting is shameful. At least with the type of hunting where one eats the quarry is justifiable as more than mere bloodlust killing.
    I certainly would never patronize such a dentist!

  2. Mark Stewart

    6. I think we can all be pretty certain the missing plane never flew to Kazakhstan.

    Where at the bottom of the Indian Ocean it lies is still a great unknown.

    1. Norm Ivey

      I’ve been interested in the approach use in trying to back-fill information. Based on the ocean currents and on the species of mollusks growing on the flaperon, investigators hope to determine where the piece came from. Fascinating. Science.

  3. Scout

    The plight of the poached elephants is extremely disturbing in it’s own right. They are equally magnificent and no less important than the lions. I think the lion story was over the top disturbing and struck more of a nerve because of the sense of egregious arrogant excess embodied by trophy hunting by the very rich. Poaching is bad, but one can at least imagine that the poachers are probably just locals trying to make a living any way they can, and that is one way they can because there is a market for it. (Would be great if we could shut down that market). It’s a lot more appalling when the transgressor has no need to do it but just wants to – putting his own desire for entertainment over the right of another creature to exist. It is selfish and rude. Aslan is not pleased.

    1. Norm Ivey

      Elephant poaching is reaching critical levels. According to NatGeo, over 60% of the elephant population has been massacred in the last 10 years. Large mammals are an important part of the ecology of an biome, and because they exist in smaller numbers and take longer to adapt than other species, their reduction or extinction has a greater ripple effect that other organisms. The loss of Cecil and 5 elephants matters, but it’s not their magnificence or stateliness or adorability that matters. It’s that they are there, and they are part of the balance of nature.

      1. Pat

        I recently saw a piece about elephant tusks and rhino horns being dyed deep pink to make them unmarketable. Sounded like a good idea to me.

    2. Mike Cakora

      Want to see wildlife thrive? Let the locals own and manage the beasties. What’s cleaner and better cared for, the bathroom in your abode or a public restroom?

      When everyone owns wildlife-that is, when government owns it-no one will take care of it. The public or nonprofit decision maker who cannot personally gain from more efficient utilization of the wildlife resource will not be keen to minimize wastage.

      What is urgently needed locally is the strengthening of the institutions of justice to ensure the rule of law and the devolution of property rights to the local communities. At the international level, it is important to have the western world listen to the plight of the people around the wildlife conservation areas. The former director of Kenya Wildlife Service, David Western, observed correctly that if villagers living around a park made money from wildlife, the park would in effect become the villagers’ bank and the wild animals in the park their assets. This would provide a powerful incentive against poaching. People are not likely to rob their own bank.

      The farming communities should be exposed to farming methods that increase yield per hectare in order to reduce competition for space with the wildlife. They should also be allowed to co-own wildlife around their farms and/or be entitled to shares in the parks, now owned by the government, around their farms. Landowners whose land the animals occupy outside official protected areas should be included in the Kenya Wildlife Service board of management. This representation will help check disputes between the government agency and the locals.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        I have been in plenty of public restrooms that were way cleaner than plenty of private ones….my own dear brother and family are just one example….

  4. Bryan Caskey

    A few thoughts on the Lion:

    1. I don’t have any hard numbers, but I would guess that trophy hunting in Africa is likely a large source of income for African countries. It’s very expensive to go out and pay for all the permits to go big-game hunting. That income is likely very substantial. Also, if done correctly, you can hunt certain animals from time to time, in a way that manages the total amount of animals.

    That’s the whole point of all the hunting and angling conservation groups. They want to ensure that they aren’t going to simply eradicate the animals. For instance, SCDNR issues a very limited number of alligator permits each year specifically to control the alligator population. Last year, I shot an adult alligator because a friend of mine asked me to go. He was issued a permit in the DNR lottery, but he wanted me to go because according to him I was a better shot, and he wanted someone who wouldn’t miss. This brings me to my next point.

    2. This guy shot a lion with a crossbow? I saw it reported that he shot the lion with a crossbow, and that just seemed odd to me on a couple of levels. First off, if I were hunting anything really dangerous like a lion (or an alligator) I’m bringing all the firepower I can. I don’t want to wound the animal because (1) I don’t want it to suffer and (2) I don’t want to shoot it only to wound the animal, have it get mad, and then it kills me. Because getting mauled by an angry wounded lion really ruins your whole afternoon.

    Accordingly, I thought it was the height of folly to attempt a lion hunt with a crossbow. Maybe I don’t know enough about big-game hunting, but I’d want a rifle. Probably a big caliber one, at that. What if he’d missed, or just nicked the lion? So, to me, this guy is either incredibly brave or incredibly dumb. (Probably the latter, though.)

    3. Although everyone on the internet seems to be really worked up about this, I just can’t really summon a whole bunch of moral outrage here. I agree that if he broke the law in luring a lion from a protected area, then there should be a punishment. However, the internet is really good at taking some incident and blowing it way out of proportion. Is it fair that this guy’s life is now ruined because he shot a lion? Is that a proportional response? For his side of things, the guy claims (claims, mind you) that he thought everything was all legal and okay. Maybe let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and get some facts before we break out the pitchforks and torches.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      There were local guides on hand with guns.
      I get the whole Temple Grandin notion that livestock exists largely because we eat them, and that the best way to preserve/conserve many species is to make them economically useful.
      It’s just very hard for me to wrap my head around the kind of person who has to *kill* a beautiful animal. Such a person seems to be lacking something and trying to compensate.
      Take a picture!
      Alligators(now) and deer–sure–thin the herd. There is no need to thin the herd of lions.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Just based on the little information I have about this hunt, it sounds like one of those “canned” hunts, where everything is just set up for you, and the shooter comes in an pulls the trigger. No skill, no work, just a lay-up.

        One of the first expressions I heard when learning to hunt was when we were coming back from a hunt that was unsuccessful for one reason or another, was a rueful “Well boy, if ya shot one every time, it wun’t be hunting. It jus’ be killin’“.

        1. Pat

          The other thing I read was that the lion wasn’t immediately killed and they had to track him down and shoot him.

          1. Lynn Teague

            The lion suffered for 40 hours before they found him and killed him, presumably with a gun.

    2. bud

      Is it fair that this guy’s life is now ruined because he shot a lion? Is that a proportional response?

      Life’s not fair but in this case the free market is working to punish this guy for acting as an inhumane jackass. But you’re right about one thing, this isn’t a proportional response. A proportional response would be to shoot the SOB in the ass with a crossbow and let him wander around in the woods in agony for 40 hours until a pride of lions found him and mauled him to death. THAT would be proportional.

      There have been some very well written comments about this incident that I’m not really able to add much too. Scout’s in particular is especially good. But this disturbing incident strike a cord with so many people simply because of the sheer disbelief that a well educated man who works in a field aimed at alleviating the discomfort of dental issues could take pleasure in ruthlessly hunting down a wild, beautiful creature and bring about his demise in such a cruel manner. What goes through peoples minds that would bring them to the point of acting so callously?

    3. Norm Ivey

      I agree that trophy hunting is an major source of income for African nations. So is safari tourism. If the numbers of the large mammals are reduced to levels where tourist cannot view them in their natural habitat, the economy of those nations will be negatively impacted. Yes, wild animals can (and in some cases, NEED) to be harvested to maintain healthy populations. Deer in South Carolina? Yes. African lions and elephants? I’m not confident they meet the criteria.

    4. Norm Ivey

      And is it fair that this guy’s business is being affected? Yes, it is. As Bud observes, that’s the market in action. To be clear–I disagree with Bud’s assertion that the hunter should be shot and mauled. I value human life as much–more than–this lion. But if this guy was so oblivious that he didn’t think some people might be offended by his hunting of a lion, I’m not sure I would want him poking around my teeth anyhow.

      1. Doug Ross

        I’d like to see the market forces at work when it comes to Planned Parenthood. Each of the employees who has been captured on videotape should be fired. Are you all with me on that one? Nah… those fetuses don’t have a catchy name like Cecil. Why don’t we let Planned Parenthood utilize the market forces and rely solely on donations and selling baby body parts?

        1. Norm Ivey

          Are you all with me on that one? Nah…

          I’m not sure why the Planned Parenthood thing is posted as a reply to me, but your question and response don’t reflect my views.

          1. Doug Ross

            Because you said it is fair that the guys business is affected for his behavior. I’d like to see the same for planned parenthood., especially the managers who talked about selling body parts.

        2. Bryan Caskey

          Has anyone asked the folks at Planned Parenthood what they think about Cecil the Lion?

  5. Karen Pearson

    For a long time the black population has seen the police as being a foe, rather than a friend, and have not cooperated with them. I think that we are seeing that they have had reason for this. I have never been stopped for failure to signal a lane change. I was stopped once when I didn’t have my license on me. The police simply checked their own records to see if I was telling the truth when I said I did have a license. Change is going to be difficult for some, but I think it will result ultimately in better policing, and maybe more trust from the community.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Yes! The officer’s CO said he would have totally believed the officer, had the video not shown otherwise….

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Yep. It’s another example of body cameras for law enforcement officers paying dividends by showing what actually happened.

    2. Norm Ivey

      There has got to be a better way of screening police officers. Most cops are honorable, cautious men and women, but we have a remarkable number of yahoos who are just criminals with badges. If eHarmony can find compatible people, shouldn’t someone be able to develop a law enforcement career compatibility instrument?

      1. Mark Stewart

        Ever hired and fired people, Norm? People sometimes do the darnedest things.

        Clearly issues are likely at play with this cop. The big arcing connection was that his hair-trigger anger/frustration/whatever had an actual trigger at hand.

        It’s likely this cop never should have been out on patrol that day (as in weeks or months prior); but that is a very hard thing for an employer to decide in advance. We don’t expect people to loose all there senses in a flash, though sometimes they do just that.

        1. Norm Ivey

          I have. A long time ago in another life, it seems. But the kids I hired at McDonald’s were never in a position where their choices could result in somebody’s child being murdered.

          Officers like this one, the one last summer on Broad River Road, and the guy in Charleston should never be handed a gun. There must be some sort of psychological screening that would identify officers who may not respond well in stressful situations. And if these shootings are influenced by race, that should be very easy to identify. The repeated pattern makes it look like these guys are looking for an excuse to use their weapons.

          1. Bryan Caskey

            Training, training, and more training. Then train some more.

            You have to practice. Having a firearm and making life or death decisions in a split second is not something that anyone is innately good at. You have to practice. I don’t care how good of a person you are. You have to train. I know guys who shoot IDPA as a hobby. They train more to win a little gold cup than police officers (who’s very lives depend on it) do.

            Simply having a firearm does not make you competent in using it any more than simply owning a piano makes you a pianist.

            1. Kathryn Fenner

              Aw, dang. I thought if I bought a bigger piano, I’d be a better pianist!
              (and it worked–with some small thanks to Phillip and regular practice)…..

            2. Margaret Pridgen (Maggie)

              Agree, Bryan. And not just training in firearms, though that is clearly essential. But also needed are training in human relations, psychology, conflict avoidance/de-escalation skills and just plain humanity — understanding yourself and the “other.” Of course people should respect and obey police officers. But if they don’t, disrespect alone and the need to assert your authority can never justify use of deadly force. I am really concerned that whatever official training we give these basically decent folks is not sufficient to overcome a lifetime of training to develop hair-trigger reflexes by playing these ultra-violent video games.

      2. Karen Pearson

        I suspect that over time, we’re going to find that police are less overbearing to everyone, since they know that their actions are being recorded. We need to start being suspicious when cameras start “malfunctioning” with some regularity, or police begin to forget to turn them on. Right now they are new, and it hasn’t sunk in yet that there’s a video that shows what actually happened.

  6. bud

    Just in case animal lovers want something else to obsess over.

    Yes Brad this animal lover is obsessing over this. It’s just beyond the pail. But it takes an exceptional amount of moxie for someone who’s written dozens and dozens of pieces about something as insignificant as a red, white and blue piece of cloth to ever, EVER, call anyone out for “obsessing” over anything.

    1. Brad Warthen

      Bud, I could have been more sensitive with my wording, certainly.

      But to be clear: I cared about the flag because I care about PEOPLE, first and foremost. Flying that flag was about how some people treat other people. I would never be intentionally cruel to an animal, but if I’m going to sit up nights worrying about something, it will have to do with people…

    2. Karen Pearson

      Bud, both are symbols. Lions and other animals get killed every day, but in this case, this lion becomes the symbol of man’s willingness to kill off whole species of animals, including that magnificent animal (he was lots cuter than some that are gone forever). Likewise, the confederate flag became a symbol for the insouciance of the people of this state toward other people, or the continued disrespect for those people’s heritage of terror linked to that flag. People have died horrible deaths for symbols (think of a pole with a cross piece. It’s what behind those symbols that make people willing to kill or be killed for them, over even write lots of editorials about them.

  7. Phillip

    My feeling about the lion is: yes, it’s a terrible story, but the mass outrage is made possible by the fact that we’re talking about one of the charismatic large animals, who had a NAME, for goodness’ sake. I wish that this wave of revulsion that’s gone viral around the world could be sustained on behalf of the rapid extinction of hundreds, thousands, of species that are not as obviously lovable but no less critical to the biodiversity of the planet: amphibians, insects, for example. Human nature makes us rise up in understandable outrage at the manner of the death of Cecil the Lion, while our eyes glaze over at the idea that we might be witnessing (indeed, an active player in) the sixth of Earth’s mass extinction episodes.

    Really, for those of us in the developed world anyway, we’re all the dentist.

    1. Rose

      We’ll certainly witness the extinction of the northern white rhino in our lifetimes – there are now only 4 left in the world. The last male, 42-year old Sudan, lives in an African park, and has 24 hour armed guards; they cut off his horn to thwart poachers. But it’s too late for this subspecies.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        There are four left, and one is a male?

        My superior powers of deduction have concluded that the other three must be female (unless they have self-identified as male or have otherwise repudiated the cis-rhino norms). Assuming all four rhinos are cis-rhinos, then that one male rhino needs to get busy with the three lady rhinos. I hate to make that assumption, because it’s probably offensive to the non-cis rhinos out there. Hopefully, 42 isn’t too old for our lone, male rhino to…you know…help out the species.

    2. Kathryn Fenner

      I disagree. Inaction to preserve species is different (though not laudable) from going to great lengths to kill one individual. The latter has a much higher degree of intent–malice if you will.

    3. Pam Wilkins

      Hear, hear! For anyone who hasn’t read Elizabeth Colbert’s The Sixth Extinction, go get it now. It’s thoroughly absorbing–great science writing for those of us who are scientifically curious but illiterate–and also is a bit scary. And the concerns extend (of course) to humans.

      But I do admit to identifying more strongly with elephants and lions than with the various bees, bats, and insects facing extinction. So sad to think that some day pretty soon elephants may be extinct.

  8. bud

    Just to be crystal clear, I don’t literally think any kind of death penalty should be given to the dentist. A stiff fine, along with the ongoing bad press seems like a sufficient punishment.

    As for the flag, glad it’s gone.

  9. Bart

    Just like a man, a day late on everything. Just to let all of my friends on that good things do last a long time, especially when it is a marriage. Linda and I celebrated our 50th anniversary on July 30th. Needless to say, she is deserving of sainthood for putting up with me for 50 years, the best 50 years of my life.

    We have been through the good times and the bad times but when things were at their worst, we never forgot that we loved each other deeply. She has been my best friend and my harshest critic and if not for her, as I have told her on more than one occasion, without her, I don’t believe I would have made it this long in life.

    She has been my anchor when I didn’t think I needed one. She has been the voice of my conscience when I didn’t think I needed one. She has been the voice of reason when I was unreasonable. She has been the steadying influence when I went off on a crazy idea.

    I thank God for her every day and know that my life has been complete because of her and the two beautiful children we have together.

    After 50 years, she is still as beautiful to me as she was the day we met and on our wedding day.

    Just wanted to share with everyone a great event in my life and to let anyone who reads this that if you hang in there and understand the value of a faithful and forgiving wife or husband, you have one of the greatest gifts God could ever bless you with.

    We didn’t do anything special because every day now is special and dinner out was the extent of our celebration. If anything, the days we have left are a celebration of life and love and devotion to each other and to God.

    Blessings be on each one of you and thank you for allowing me to be a part of the blog family.


      1. Bart

        Indeed I did marry up!!! Still wondering why she said yes. But, who am I to question such a blessing?

    1. Pat

      Happy Anniversary, Bart! What a beautiful tribute to your wife and your marriage! May you have many more anniversaries.

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