Good News Open Thread: Light A Candle

From the Washington Post:

Charlotte and Dave Willner had seen the pictures of migrant children crying at the border. One in particular reminded them of their own 2-year-old daughter.

The San Francisco area couple had heard — as much of the United States had by now — that President Trump’s administration has begun jailing migrant parents caught crossing the border and sending their children to shelters. The president’s chief of staff has called the new “zero-tolerance” policy a deterrent against illegal immigration.

But the Willners had also learned that a lump of cash might thwart the government’s plans.

Just like arrested Americans, detained migrant parents can often post bond and simply walk out of jail.

They can then, presumably, collect their children from government custody and live in the United States until their court hearings, which are often months away.

Or they could, if they had the money. Bonds for detained migrants typically range from hundreds to many thousands of dollars — amounts that might as well be in the billions for families that arrive here with next to nothing, and have whatever they brought with them confiscated by Border Patrol.

So the Willners created a Facebook fundraiser over the weekend to raise $1,500 — enough to free a single migrant parent with a relatively low bond.

“It was the closest thing we could do to hugging that kid,” Dave Willner told the Mercury News.

Five days later, the Willners have raised more than $8 million and climbing — overflowing all previous optimism.

“We can confirm this is one of the largest fundraisers we’ve ever seen on Facebook,” Roya Winner, a spokeswoman for the social media giant, told The Washington Post, back when the amount was less than $4 million…

In more ways than one, the surge has overwhelmed the Texas nonprofit that will receive the money, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES).

If donations keep up at pace — $4,000 a minute at one point — the nonprofit is likely to take in more cash than it raised in all of 2016, according to its public financial records.

It plans to use the money not only to bond parents out of immigration jails but also to provide lawyers to the parents and children as they fight in court to stay together and stay in the United States…

Much more — including one additional reason the money is so important nowat the link.

Even “skeptical killjoy” Felix Salmon is on board:

The RAICES donations are not only going to an excellent and effective cause, they’re going to an excellent and effective cause that scales. Effectiveness of donations is hard to measure at the best of times, but it’s much easier than normal in the case of RAICES, because of the way in which the funds are going to be used. To put it another way: The RAICES money will be well-spent, not because we can be sure that RAICES itself is well-managed, but rather because of what it’s going to be spent on…

Thursday Morning Open Thread: Out of Our League

In related news, Not The Onion… but the BBC“Does the US have a pet tiger problem?”:

Taj was a four-month-old tiger cub when purchased at a Texas truck stop by the driver of an 18-wheeler lorry. But after Taj began tearing up the truck’s cab, the driver contacted Austin Zoo to get the animal off his hands. The zoo now looks after the fully grown 17-year-old Bengal tiger male.

Taj is one of as many as 7,000 tigers living in the US either in zoos or privately owned, according to some estimates. That’s nearly double the estimated 3,890 tigers still prowling in the wild around the world.

Many of America’s tigers could be in people’s backyards as pets, and often aren’t registered, especially in states like Texas. No-one really knows just how many tigers there are out there.

At the heart of this surprising tiger turnout is the very American notion of a God-given right to do one’s own thing, including owning a pet – no matter how exotic – being an individual liberty that the state should not mess with…

It is easier to own a tiger than a dog that has been labelled dangerous in the state of Texas, which could have between 2,000 and 5,000 tigers.

“Texas is a conservative state and values personal liberties and the right to keep what you want,” says Pamela Boich of the Texas Human Legislation Network, an animal welfare lobbying group…

Floods and hurricanes notwithstanding, Texas’s climate is usually very amenable for tigers, meaning they can live outside year round, without the need for winter quarters, says John Gramieri, general curator at Austin Zoo…

And here we thought the imported boa constrictors in Florida were an ecological disaster!

Considerably further down the ‘dangerous wildlife’ scale…

The Washington Post quotes an academic expert:

… Suzanne MacDonald, a York University psychologist who studies urban raccoons… wasn’t worried. Why? Because raccoons — as their black masks might suggest — have “quite a few superpowers,” she explained not long after the drama ended Wednesday morning. The most obvious of those talents: a crack climbing ability.
Read more

Open thread

As always, there is an XKCD for everything…

Be excellent to each other….

Open thread

Saturday Morning Sci-Fi Open Thread: Mars Needs Believers!

Even as a very young hardcore sf reader, I knew I would never be part of a one-way space mission, because I can barely stand to spend a long weekend trapped in the house with a handful of people I love, much less a bunch of random strangers. (And, yes, I did not rate my chances of appealing to a quorum of those strangers, either.) But Murphy the Trickster God bless the… idealists… who are willing to share their dreams of Martian colonization with all the world and the Boston Globe:

When the initial tingle had passed and the idea had been given time to marinate and settle, Peter Degen-Portnoy said his family split into camps regarding his decision to commit to a one-way trip to Mars.

His sons think it’s cool.

His two oldest daughters stopped speaking with him.

And his wife left him.

Three years ago, Degen-Portnoy, a 54-year-old father of five from Stoneham, was one of 100 semifinalists chosen for Mars One, a wildly ambitious Dutch-led project that ultimately seeks to colonize Mars, beginning in 2032, with 20 permanent, never-to-return-to-Earth settlers. The plan has been controversial from the moment it was announced in 2012, with serious questions about the technological feasibility, as well as the plan to fund much of the mission.

Mars One organizers say the project can be accomplished for roughly $6 billion; critics say that is preposterous, as is the plan to raise much of that through corporate sponsorship and the sale of television rights.

The mission is currently far, far away from becoming a reality — millions of miles and millions of questions remain about how they will get there, how they will survive on Mars and build a self-sustaining colony, and of course how they will survive the trip. The current plan involves sending supplies ahead, then sending crews of four crammed into spaceships the size of a tour bus for the 18-month journey. When solar flares erupt, they will retreat into a bathroom-sized pod, surrounded by water for protection, for several claustrophobic days at a time.

While space experts and keyboard cowboys continue their debate, Degen-Portnoy and the three other semifinalists from Massachusetts have been dealing with the very real impact on their personal lives that comes when you make a commitment to a one-way trip to outer space.

For whether they go to Mars or not, “the 100,” as they call themselves, are the first humans to actually experience the terrestrial repercussions of making such an extravagant extraterrestrial commitment…

But there’s also a love story! Much more at the link — along with a full-sized version of the video clip at the top.

‘Look for the Helpers’ Open Thread: James Shaw, Jr

In the “Stuff That *Doesn’t* Suck” category…

Just days after the 40-year-old rapper tweeted of his support for President Donald Trump, [Kanye] West shared a photo of Gonzalez and referred to her as “my hero” on Saturday…

Gonzalez, who has openly rebuked Trump and called for stricter gun laws in the country since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Feb. 14 that killed 17 people, did not return West’s compliment. Copying the format of West’s tweet, she paid tribute to James Shaw Jr., who attacked a gunman who fatally opened fire at a Tennessee Waffle House restaurant on April 22 and likely saved lives by wrestling the assault-style rifle out of the assailant’s hands…

James Shaw Jr., the hero of the April 22 Waffle House shooting, has launched a campaign on a crowdfunding site to raise money for the victims of the deadly attack in a Nashville suburb.

Shaw initially wanted to raised $15,000. The site had collected over $188,000 as of early Sunday morning.

“Please take the time to donate as all of the proceeds will be given to the families. Thank you again for your generosity and blessings!” according to a message from Shaw on the site, which ABC News has confirmed is authentic…

Authorities said Shaw’s bravery saved numerous lives, but he has refused to call himself a hero, saying only that he stood up to the gunman to save his own life.

“I never thought I would be in a room with all the eyes on me but, you know, I am very grateful to be here,” a humble Shaw told the Tennessee State legislature during a ceremony honoring him. “All I can say is … this was a true test of a man. I do, once again, apologize to the people that lost loved ones, friends or family.” …

From the NYTimes, “I Just Wanted to Live”

The young woman, bandaged and shrouded in bedsheets, began to cry when James Shaw Jr. walked into Room No. 26 on Monday morning. Then, as the woman’s father drew near, one of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s trauma surgeons turned to him: “Have you met James? James saved a lot of lives.”

The men embraced, crying, the woman’s father clapping Mr. Shaw on the back…

Law enforcement officials and customers said they had Mr. Shaw, a 29-year-old electrician, to thank for preventing greater bloodshed. But in the frenzied, dizzying hours since the attack, he has found the sudden and very public surge of respect and gratitude uncomfortable.
Read more

Open Thread: Surfing Records

These days, everything feels like a political metaphor, doesn’t it?

Monday Morning Open Thread: Rock On, Fellow Jackals!

For this Monday, a ditty from universally beloved commentor SiubhanDuinne:

Good old Balloon Juice,
As good as it gets:
Come for the POLITICS,
Stay for the PETS.

Balloon Juice will serve you,
Whatever your mood:
Come for the ANIMALS,
Stay for the FOOD.

Most of us love Cole’s
Emotional rants:
Come for the RECIPES,
Stay for the PLANTS.

The kittehs meow,
And the puppehs do bark.
Come for the GARDENING,
Stay for the SNARK.

We make fun of Huckabee-
Sanders’s looks:
Come for the NASTINESS,
Stay for the BOOKS.

We’re few of us burdened
With riches or wealth.
But come for the WRITERS’ THREADS,
Stay for the HEALTH.

I’m by no means a lawyer,
Don’t know about torts;
But I came for OBAMACARE,
Stayed for the SPORTS.

You may care not for music,
Nor skull-fucking goats;
But come for the FOOTBALL,
And stay for the VOTES.


Not to jinx anything, but I’d be just as happy if the Chaos Gods decided to send us a week where very little “breaking news” arises, and we front-pagers get to use up some of our backlog of interesting / funny story links. Who’s with me?