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Know the West

Expletive hot; lemur spotting; teacher cams

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

 

THE WEST
“Hot enough for you?” That’s the traditional summer greeting for Westerners meeting at the grocery store or in front of the post office. But from Portland to Phoenix these days, as the thermometer consistently ratchets above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the response might just come with an expletive. Now a new study of human-caused climate change’s effects on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem tells us that what’s going on might be even worse than we imagined. As Jonathan Thompson notes in his Land Desk, the study found that the Yellowstone region’s average temperature is not only the highest it’s been in the last 20,000 years, “it’s likely as warm now as it has been in 800,000 years.” In addition, “The mean annual temperature has increased by 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1950, and could jump by another 5-10 degrees by 2100.” For farmers and gardeners in the area bordering Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, there’s a silver lining: The growing season has increased by about two weeks. Unfortunately, that only helps if there’s irrigation water, and we’re already too worried about climate change to even think about that.

CALIFORNIA
The Los Angeles man accused of stealing an adorable — and extremely endangered — ring-tailed lemur from the San Francisco Zoo last October has been charged by federal prosecutors with violating the Endangered Species Act, reports ABC News. Cory John McGilloway, 31, is accused of snatching the animal from a zoo enclosure; pictures on his phone show him walking the lemur on a leash and driving with it on his lap, reports The New York Times. “At some point, under circumstances that are unclear, man and lemur separated,” the paper added. The missing lemur, called Maki by zookeepers, was later discovered in a playground south of San Francisco. What alert scientific type was smart enough to identify the animal? Preschooler James Trinh, 5, that’s who, who yelled: “There’s a lemur! There’s a lemur!” Though James was sure the big-eyed animal was a lemur, some adults from the Hope Lutheran Day School were skeptical. That’s because “coyotes, skunks, raccoons” have all visited the playground, school director Cynthia Huang told the San Francisco Chronicle. The zoo had been searching eagerly for Maki because the 21-year-old lemur was arthritic and needed special care. Once back home and no longer hungry, agitated or thirsty, Maki returned to his “normal lemur self,” said a zookeeper. And James, who told a news reporter that he knows a lemur when he sees one because he likes the way they look, received a certificate of honor from the San Francisco mayor. Grateful zoo officials also gave him a lifelong zoo membership and his very own lemur, one that’s neither arthritic nor endangered because it’s a stuffed animal. Meanwhile, the lemur-napper faces a possible sentence of a year behind bars and up to $50,000 in fines. He was arrested after police investigating a shoplifting saw him drive off in a stolen dump truck.

NEVADA
Karen England, founder of a group called the Nevada Family Alliance, said she’s concerned about teachers “contradicting the lessons taught by parents at home,” reports The Week. That includes teaching “critical race theory.” Fortunately, England knows just how to prevent it: She wants teachers to start wearing body cameras. The cameras would ensure there’s “a record that could be viewed by appropriate parties,” she said. No word on how those “appropriate parties” would be selected, but we hope they wear body cameras too; their discussions might prove educational.

THE NATION
Many of us have a favorite Swiss Army knife tool: toothpick, tweezers, corkscrew — take your pick. Until recently, though, it’s a safe bet that few people considered using their ingenious knives like, say, an assault rifle — to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible. But in a 94-page opinion, Judge Roger Benitez of the Southern District of California, a George W. Bush appointee, made that bizarre comparison as he ruled California’s 30-year ban on assault-style weapons unconstitutional. Like the Swiss Army knife, he explained, the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle is “good for both home and battle … the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.” The judge blamed the media for perpetuating false stories of “murderous” AR-15s, reports the Los Angeles Times. In California, Benitez asserted, “murder by knife occurs seven times more often than murder by rifle,” though he failed to specify if Swiss Army knives were involved. Second Amendment advocates applauded the ruling, which is certain to be appealed.   

Tips of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected], or submit a letter to the editor