|September 07, 2013||Rainy Day Caturday.||2 comments|
|August 31, 2013||Caturday: Labor Day Weekend Edition.||2 comments|
|August 30, 2013||Cat Got Your Tongue?||5 comments|
|August 25, 2013||Anchor Baby.||3 comments|
|August 24, 2013||Caturday Munchies.||2 comments|
|August 18, 2013||You Say Mojito, I Say Olinguito...||4 comments|
|August 17, 2013||Caturday Double Header!||2 comments|
|August 12, 2013||Happy Birthday Schrodinger...||2 comments|
|August 10, 2013||Getting To Know You...||5 comments|
|August 10, 2013||Caturday Cattin'||2 comments|
From "Blame Canada" to "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative," Americans love to mock their large, icy neighbor to the North, aboot whom they often know very little but the occasional lilting of their accents? That impulse toward good-humored, neighborly ribbing has met something a little darker in today's Republican Party, where some are asking whether or not Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is fully American because of the circumstances of his birth in Canada to an American citizen, Eleanor Elizabeth Wilson. That led Cruz to release his birth certificate Sunday, proving his American lineage to any doubters.
The fact of the matter is, Rafael Edward Cruz is and has always been an American citizen by birth. But it is also the case that Rafael Edward Cruz, unless and until he successfully completes a Canadian-citizenship-renunciation process, is and has been a dual citizen of Canada, as all individuals born in Canada to American parents are, with a few narrow exceptions.
"Unless their parents were foreign diplomats ... they are automatically citizens at birth" under the Canadian Citizenship Act of 1947, said Chris Plunkett, a spokesman for the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
"Anyone who has not formally renounced their citizenship remains a Canadian citizen," he said. On this the law is clear.
Cruz's office was not able to confirm that he had renounced his citizenship, and declined to comment more extensively.
If Cruz wanted to rid himself of the pesky questions raised by being a dual-national with presidential ambitions, it shouldn't be too onerous a process, though it could take a while. He would seem to be eligible to renounce Canadian citizenship, and he can easily download and fill out the application to renounce it from the government of Canada, for a processing fee.
That done, pesky questions about his citizenship and dual national status might subside some. Indeed, the biggest risk to Cruz of the Cruz birther movement is not that people will think him ineligible to be president, but that they will look at him as Canadian-American, rather than Cuban-American, so long as he retains both American and Canadian citizenship. The prospect of a Latino conservative Republican president is exciting; a Canadian one, less so.
If Cruz wants to renounce his Canadian citizenship in time to have things settled for a presidential bid, he'll need to get started on that soon. Application processing almost never takes less than a year and can take up to two, according to Rudolf Kischer, a Canadian immigration expert and attorney with Maynard Kischer Stojicevic in Vancouver, British Columbia.
It's not something people do often, Kischer said, but when they do, they tend to do it for a cause that should be near and dear to Cruz's heart. "The ones I see, most are for tax reasons," said Kischer.
Update: Cruz said late Monday that he will renounce his Canadian citizenship: "Now the Dallas Morning News says that I may technically have dual citizenship. Assuming that is true, then sure, I will renounce any Canadian citizenship. Nothing against Canada, but I'm an American by birth and as a U.S. Senator, I believe I should be only an American."
By Garance Franke-Ruta -
The discovery brings to an end one of the longest zoological cases of mistaken identity and establishes the "olinguito" (which rhymes with mojito) as the first new carnivore recorded in the western hemisphere for 35 years.
The animal – which has been described as a cross between a teddy bear and a house cat – had been displayed in museums around the globe and exhibited at numerous US zoos for decades without scientists grasping that it had been mislabelled.
One adult female, named Ringerl, was kept at Louisville zoo in the 1960s, but was moved to Tucson zoo, to the Smithsonian's National zoo, and to the Bronx zoo after keepers repeatedly failed in their attempts to breed the animal. The reason for that failure is now clear: it was a different species to the mates on offer.
The true identity of the overlooked beast only emerged after Kristofer Helgen, curator of mammals at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, launched a 10-year investigation into an obscure group of raccoon-like mammals called olingos. What began with a drawer-full of remains ended with a nighttime trek through the cloud forests of Ecuador, where scientists photographed the creature living in the trees.
"If you look up olingos in a book today, pretty much everyone says we don't know quite how many species there are, what their ranges are, and which are endangered. I set out to resolve all that, I wanted to put olingos on the map," Helgen told the Guardian.
"But in the process of trying to do that, and because we were the first group in generations to look closely at his part of the carnivore family tree, we revealed this incredible and beautiful animal that everyone had overlooked," he said.
The moment of realisation came when Helgen was going through skins and skulls of mammals at the Field Museum in Chicago. "I pulled out a drawer and there were these brilliant, beautiful orange-red pelts with long flowing fur. It was nothing like olingo fur. I then looked at the skulls and the shape was very different. I wondered, 'is this a mammal that's been missed by every other zoologist?' It turns out that it was," he said.
The animal had been mistaken for an olingo because of some broad similarities, but these turned out to be superficial. Helgen's animal was different on almost every measure: it was smaller, much furrier, had a shorter tail, different teeth, and smaller ears. "We are not talking about splitting hairs. If you saw the two animals side by side you would wonder how they could ever be confused," Helgen said.
Convinced they had a new species on their hands, Helgen's team arranged an expedition to the cloud forests of the Andes, where similar creatures had come from. Trekking at night through the dense vegetation, and accompanied by a chorus of frogs and crickets, they spotted other nocturnal beasts in the beams of their headtorches: kinkajous and porcupines.
"Eventually, there it was, an olinguito. We got it in the beam, running around, jumping from tree to tree, but getting close enough so that when it turned and looked into the beam we knew exactly what it was," he said.
The olinguito is a carnivore, but the term has two meanings in biology. The most familiar is an animal that eats meat, but the other is any animal that belongs to the order Carnivora, which includes cats, dogs, tigers, bears and others. They are not all meat eaters, and the olinguito mostly eats fruit.
Working with local museums, the team later extracted DNA from animals on display and confirmed that some were olinguitos, a previously unknown relative of the olingo. They have since confirmed there are at least four sub-species of the animals.
The DNA evidence took the scientists back to the Smithsonian Institution. There they found that scientific databases already contained olinguito DNA that had been wrongly labelled as olingo. It also led them to tissues from a Colombian olinguito held in storage at the museum. They belonged to Ringerl, the unfortunate female that toured US zoos.
"We tracked down Ringerl's keeper and asked why she moved her around so much. She said 'we couldn't get her to breed with any of the olingos.' This animal wasn't fussy, it just wasn't the same species. It would have been impossible. It was a glorious case of mistaken identity," said Helgen.
The name olinguito means small or adorable olingo, but writing in the journal ZooKeys, the team give the animal a formal scientific name too, Bassaricyon neblina. The species name, neblina, means "fog" or "mist" in Spanish, a nod to the cloud forests where the animal lives. But it also means obscured. "That's exactly what the olinguito has been," Helgen said. "Lost in the fog."
By Ian Sample -
Are Seniors Souring on the Republican Party?
Just 28 percent of voters 65 and older had a favorable view of the Republican Party in a national survey conducted last month by the Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, versus 40 percent who had a positive view of the Democrats. That's a reversal from a poll Greenberg conducted in early 2011, when 43 percent of seniors saw Republicans favorably and 37 percent saw Democrats that way.
"It is now strikingly clear that [seniors] have turned sharply against the GOP," Erica Seifert, a senior associate at Greenberg's firm, wrote on the company's website this week. "We have seen other voters pull back from the GOP, but among no group has this shift been as sharp as it is among senior citizens."
More seniors still said they plan to vote Republican than Democrat in 2014, 46 percent to 41 percent. But that 5-point margin is down from the 21-point margin seniors gave the GOP in 2010, according to exit polls. In 2012, voters 65 and over were Mitt Romney's strongest age group, favoring the GOP nominee by 12 points. (Romney outpolled his two GOP nominee predecessors, John McCain and the 2004 campaign of George W. Bush, who both won seniors by 8 points.)
The shift is particularly significant, Seifert noted, because seniors are the most reliable voters in the electorate -- and the most likely to turn out in the presidential off-year of 2014. Among all voters, Republicans still led the generic congressional ballot in Greenberg's poll, but by a single point, 44 percent to 43 percent. The poll of 841 likely 2014 voters was conducted by cell phone and land line July 10 to 15 and carries a 3-point margin of error in either direction.
The senior shift was an unexpected result that jumped out of a poll Greenberg was conducting for the Women's Voices Women Vote Action Fund focused on unmarried women's views on economic policy. Seifert believes it's largely a reaction to the Republican-backed plan by Rep. Paul Ryan to phase in changes to the Medicare system, which dates to 2011. But the slide appears to have accelerated this year: Greenberg clocked Republicans' advantage with the over-65 vote at 11 points in January, 6 in March and 5 in July. "That's the sort of shift that turns the tables," Siefert told me.
The economy is the biggest underlying factor in the shift, Seifert said. In November 2010, 49 percent of seniors said Republicans were the better party on the economy; just 34 percent said Democrats were. In the July 2013 poll, the parties were essentially tied on this metric, with 43 percent saying Democrats and 42 percent saying Republicans.
Seniors' approval of the GOP-led House has dropped from 45 percent in early 2011 to 22 percent today. They have gone from identifying more as Republicans than Democrats by a 10-point margin to identifying more as Democrats than Republicans by a 6-point margin. Fifty-five percent say the GOP is too extreme, and 52 percent say it is "out of touch" and "dividing the country."
In the July survey, large majorities of seniors agreed with progressive economic proposals, including protecting Medicare benefits (89 percent), raising working women's pay (87 percent) and expanding access to child care for working parents (77 percent). But seniors also took issue with the GOP on social concerns: slim majorities called the Republican Party "extreme" on aid to the poor (53 percent), immigration (53 percent), gay rights (52 percent), and gun violence (51 percent).
Greenberg is a Democratic pollster, to be sure. But his work is widely respected on both sides of the aisle. Republican pollster Whit Ayres didn't question the idea that seniors are souring on the GOP. "I don't think any Republican pollster who's looking at the numbers is sanguine about the state of the Republican brand at this point," he said. "You are going to see the impact of the damaged brand in every demographic group."
Nonetheless, Ayres noted, Greenberg's survey still has Republicans poised to win in 2014, if by a narrower margin than the 2010 wave. "What is striking to me in this survey is that the generic ballot is a dead heat," he said. "Republicans are actually one point ahead."
Seifert, however, believes Republicans' advantage could erode if the party keeps up its emphasis on pure obstructionism in Washington. "We used to hear a sort of equal-opportunity anti-Washington, anti-partisan line from voters in our focus groups," she said. "Increasingly, they're shifting that blame to Republicans for just saying no and refusing to compromise."
By Molly Ball -