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March 18, 2014

Adorable Squirrels and Cats Open Thread

Before the cute stuff, here's some news. Oklahoma is suing Obama and the EPA for what seems to be some kind of scam going on to deem federal lands off-limits to energy producers.

Here's what's going on: An environmental lobbying group sues the government, claiming that this or that energy project would endanger a protected species. The government quickly settles, agreeing to put those lands off-limits for production.

Here's what Oklahoma seems to be hinting at: It's a fix. The Administration is settling because it wants to put these lands off-limits, and lacks the Congressional authority to do so. So they concede a case they could easily win and get a piece of paper, the settlement now part of the law (a contract the US has entered into to settle a lawsuit), that says the lands are off-limits.

But this is more than just another green lawsuit. If Oklahoma and DEPA lose their suit, it could have a devastating impact on the U.S. energy boom, halting exploration and drilling on huge tracts of energy-rich land.

In their suit, Oklahoma and the DEPA seek "declaratory and injunctive relief for violations of the ESA." The relief is intended to overturn designation of dozens of species added to the threatened or endangered list through the "sue and settle" process.


Under the Obama administration, the feds have entered into a consent agreement with the environmentalists to rush forward a judgment on an unprecedented number of species. A 2012 Chamber of Commerce study found record numbers of such "sue and settle" cases under Obama.

The issue has taken on new urgency. Under a March 31 sue-and-settle deadline, Fish and Wildlife is expected to rule that a handful of additional species are endangered — including the lesser prairie chicken.

Mickey Kaus writes that Democrats are having trouble overturning an Affirmative Action-limiting constitutional amendment in California, because Asians (largely Democratic) don't like being discriminated against based on their race.

France says it might cancel that deal to deliver two advanced helicopter-carrying assault ships to Russia. Of course, this being France, they have to be dicks about it.

"If Putin continues doing what he is doing we could envisage cancelling the sales," Fabius told TF1 television on Tuesday. "This would be part of a third level of sanctions. For the moment we are at the second level.

"But we will ask others, and I'm thinking namely the British, to do the same with the assets of the Russian oligarchs in London. Sanctions have to be shouldered by everyone."

Apparently there are a fair number of Russian billionaires who either live in London, or live there part time, or who have a lot of money held in London. Russian dissident and chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov has called for hitting these men financially, in hopes that they would in turn pressure Putin to behave.

Thanks to their unfettered access to Western markets, Mr. Putin and his gang have exploited Western engagement with Russia in a way that the Soviet Union's leaders never dreamed of. But this also means that they are vulnerable in a way the Soviets were not. If the West punishes Russia with sanctions and a trade war, that might be effective eventually, but it would also be cruel to the 140 million Russians who live under Mr. Putin's rule. And it would be unnecessary. Instead, sanction the 140 oligarchs who would dump Mr. Putin in the trash tomorrow if he cannot protect their assets abroad. Target their visas, their mansions and IPOs in London, their yachts and Swiss bank accounts. Use banks, not tanks.

Eh, that sounds good to me too. So maybe the French aren't off-base.

Instapundit links an article about how women cooperate with each other-- not quite as well as advertised.

“The question we wanted to examine was: Do men or women cooperate differently with members of their own sex?” Wrangham said. “The conventional wisdom is that women cooperate more easily, but when you look at how armies or sports teams function, there is evidence that men are better at cooperating in some ways.”


“There is even evidence that these differences exist in 6-month-olds — but you can see it with the naked eye by about 5 or 6 years old, where boys form these large, loose groups, and girls tend to pair off into more intense, close friendships.”

What makes the differences particularly provocative, Benenson said, is that chimpanzees organize their relationships in nearly identical ways.

“Chimpanzee males usually have another individual they’re very close with, and they may constantly battle for dominance, but they also have a larger, loose group of allies,” Benenson said. “When it comes to defeating other groups, everybody bands together. I would argue that females don’t have that biological inclination, and they don’t have the practice.”

Apparently women cooperate well when they both have the same official rank (e.g., both are tenured professors, or both are senior research directors). When they don't share the same hierarchal rank, they're not as good at cooperation.

I imagine this is at least partly due to how boys are socialized, which is largely around team sports. There's less of an idea of an "official rank." The guy who plays the best gets, unofficially, the top rank, gets invited to be team captain, but that comes from performance.

@doreenhdixon and Neidermeyer's Bossy Horse send this: the world's largest James Bond car collection is now on sale for an asking price of... $33 million.

Dude, you could buy an Aston Martin DB5 and literally add the ejector seat, armor plating, and machine guns for $33 million. Why buy a prop when you can build out the actual car, if you want?

Oh, and if you were thinking, "Hey, I'll just FOIA the White House to get documents proving they're engaged in unilateral assertions of power for political purposes:" You lose, my friend. Because they've already thought of that, and have unilaterally rewritten the FOIA law to protect politically sensitive documents.

It's Sunshine Week, so perhaps some enterprising White House reporter will ask press secretary Jay Carney why President Obama rewrote the Freedom of Information Act without telling the rest of America.

The rewrite came in an April 15, 2009, memo from then-White House Counsel Greg Craig instructing the executive branch to let White House officials review any documents sought by FOIA requestors that involved "White House equities."

That phrase is nowhere to be found in the FOIA, yet the Obama White House effectively amended the law to create a new exception to justify keeping public documents locked away from the public.

If you remember, when the White House and State were cooking their Benghazi story, the State Department insisted that any reference to prior signals about terrorism should be deleted, in order to "protect the equities" of the State Department.

Thanks to @laurww for that. That seems big. If I hadn't already done this open thread, I'd make it a main post.

Okay, and now the cute stuff. Cats and squirrels. Much cuter than maybe you were expecting.

digg this
posted by Ace at 07:19 PM

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