What if there were a way to keep endangered species from going extinct?
That's the hope of a new project at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va. Researchers at the institute are putting information about animals threatened by extinction in a "stud book" and chronicling their lives from birth in order to gain as much insight as possible into each animal's family tree.
"We analyze the... birth rate and death rate to predict how many offspring they'll have in a given year," Sarah Long, director of the Population Management Center at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, told The Washington Post. "We need to plan for that and produce more births. We do the family tree to determine who should mate with whom to avoid inbreeding."
The Washington Post reports that zoos face three core challenges with their animals: maintaining populations without allowing inbreeding, replacing animals without diminishing the population in the wild, and replenishing the hundreds of species of threatened and endangered animals that are disappearing. To combat these challenges, more than 400 biologists and researchers are dedicated to completing the stud books.
In addition to encouraging animals to breed naturally, zoos are attempting to freeze animal semen to be used as many as 10 years later. The Post reports that in some cases, scientists have even taken semen samples from the animals after their deaths. The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute is currently studying and breeding 22 animal species, from the Mongolian Przewalski's horse to the American black-footed ferret.
Barbara Durrant, a reproductive physiologist at the Frozen Zoo of semen and biological material at the San Diego Zoo, told the Post that the research is "correcting what human interference has caused" in the animal kingdom. Meghan DeMaria
"House Republicans were forced to delay a vote on their health-care bill today after acknowledging they didn't have the votes to pass it," Seth Meyers said on Thursday's Late Night. "So what was Trump up to on this crucial afternoon that would decide the future of our nation's health care?" Well, he did meet with House conservatives to flip votes in favor of the bill — in a meeting filled with so many "middle-aged white dudes" it looked like a "Cialis commercial," Meyers said — but he also hopped in a long-haul semi, pretended to drive, and actually honked the horn. "In fairness, he had just seen this bumper sticker," Meyers joked: "Honk If You're Tragically Unqualified."
"The last 24 hours in politics have been truly mind-boggling," he said. "You've got the president doubling down on his false wiretapping claim, Republicans scrambling to cobble together a health-care [bill] before anyone even knows what's in it, and new reports that Trump associates may have coordinated with Russia," including revelations about Paul Manafort's recent $10 million contract with a Kremlin-tied Russian oligarch. "So Trump campaign chairman's previous job was working to advance Vladimir Putin's agenda," Meyers said. "That's like finding out your babysitter's previous job was baking children into pies."
But "as troubling as the Russian revelations are, what the Republicans have been doing with health care may be just as outrageous, and it certainly will affect more Americans," Meyers said. He spent the rest of his "Closer Look" looking at what Republicans are planning to do with their bill, including scrapping ObamaCare's requirement that health plans cover things like maternity care, mammograms, and hospitalization. ("Don't worry," he said, "every American gets one free ride on the cart that picks up your dead.")
"Republicans are radically reshaping one-fifth of the economy in a matter of hours, behind closed doors, with no public input," Meyers said. "That is insane, cruel, and reckless." But Trump has been pushing the bill hard, there's a vote on Friday, and Republicans are still writing the extremely consequential legislation. This is really, really unpopular, but Republicans have one pitch they're making to voters and their own caucus, Meyers said: "Just imagine a great health-care plan." Watch below. Peter Weber
When New York Police Department Officer Yadarquiris Molina began working in the 42nd Precinct, she wasn't the only person on the squad with that last name, as Officer Jasmine Molina had just transferred over from the 41st.
Neither woman thought much of it until they began talking in the locker room in 2014, and discovered that they had more than a last name in common — they had the same father. "When she told me his name — which is the exact same as mine — I stood speechless," Jasmine told NBC New York. "I didn't have anything to say."
Yadarquiris recalled that when she was a child, her father brought Jasmine, who is younger, to visit her, but they never saw each other after that. Jasmine found out that she also has another sister and two brothers, and when their father was dying, all the half-siblings were at his bedside. The sisters have been spending a lot of time together to make up for the years they were apart, and say they're not upset that it took so long to be reunited. "The relationship that we have now is what matters at this point," Yadarquiris said. Catherine Garcia
With quips like this, it's almost as if Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) got his degree from the Mike Huckabee School of Joke-Telling.
On Thursday, Talking Points Memo reporter Alice Ollstein tweeted that she had asked Roberts if he supported getting rid of "essential health benefits" as part of the American Health Care Act, the Republicans' proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act. His response? "I wouldn't want to lose my mammograms."
Roberts quickly became a prime example of a boob that doesn't need a mammogram. People immediately started calling him out, including Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), who tweeted: "Cancer is no joke. Mammograms save lives. Same reason we pay for prostate exams. Government shouldn't decide what care women can access." Roberts did tweet an apology, saying he "deeply" regretted his comments "on a very important topic. Mammograms are essential to women's health, and I never intended to indicate otherwise." Catherine Garcia
Somebody, at some point, must have told former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee that he was funny. Maybe they were right, Jimmy Kimmel said on Thursday's Kimmel Live. Huckabee writes daily topical jokes on Twitter, "but like a lot of great comedy voices, not everyone 'gets it,'" Kimmel said. "Some people have been posting tweets criticizing his joke-writing," drawing this retort from Huckabee:
I Tweet for my amusement and your amazement. To haters trolls and humorless people-you really shouldn't follow me. It's way over your head!
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) March 21, 2017
"Maybe he's right, maybe these jokes are over our heads," Kimmel said. "Maybe what Mike Huckabee needs is a stronger presentation — jokes don't always have the same punch when you read them to yourself." He turned the show over to comedian Patton Oswalt who, maybe, did his best with the material he was handed. Watch below. Peter Weber
Fortune just released its list of the world's 50 greatest leaders. President Trump didn't make the cut.
On Thursday, Fortune released its fourth annual list of the world's 50 greatest leaders, and there's one name glaringly absent from the list. Theo Epstein, whose Chicago Cubs broke their 108-year curse in November, tops the ranks of the greatest global leaders in business, government, philanthropy, and the arts, followed by Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Pope Francis, Melinda Gates, and Jeff Bezos, the Amazon chief and owner of The Washington Post. Not making the Top 50 is President Trump.
Trump's second national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, made the cut, coming in at No. 7 with this question: "What will happen if and when his adamantly independent thinking conflicts with his duty of loyalty to the president"? Also in the Top 50: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), one of Trump's top Republican critics (No. 9); German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Western hemisphere's anti-Trump (No. 10); Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio), one of Trump's last GOP primary rivals (No. 12); and a chorus of other people who famously don't see eye-to-eye with Trump, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (No. 31), comedian Samantha Bee (No. 19), and LeBron James (No. 11).
So how did the nominal leader of the free world not make the cut? "Remember as you scan our list that we evaluate each leader within his or her own field of endeavor," Fortune's Geoff Colvin says in his introduction. He began his introduction on the glaring visibility of "tarnished leaders" today, mentioning ousted Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Trump himself, whose "approval ratings are lower than those of any new president for whom such polling exists."
Colvin also listed the three characteristic that great leaders must promote, including that they "acknowledge reality and offer hope," and "build bridges." "As the acerbity of political discourse threatens to infect the whole culture," he writes, "the best leaders stay refreshingly open to other views, engaging opponents constructively rather than waging war." Well, there's always the new Forbes Billionaires List, where Trump at least made the Top 554. Peter Weber
Considering the grief and political attacks congressional Democrats have weathered over ObamaCare from their Republican colleagues for seven years, perhaps a little schadenfreude is to be expected now that Republicans are rushing headlong into the health-care buzzsaw. The Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee seem to have taken the lead in rubbing it in on Thursday.
They started with a dig at the GOP disarray, using the old throwback Thursday hashtag to remind Republicans of the "UNITY" they had all the way back in November:
— Ways and Means Dems (@WaysMeansCmte) March 23, 2017
Then there was the alternative acrostic for American Health Care Act:
— Ways and Means Dems (@WaysMeansCmte) March 24, 2017
And what internet trolling session would be complete without animated GIFs?
— Ways and Means Dems (@WaysMeansCmte) March 23, 2017
— Ways and Means Dems (@WaysMeansCmte) March 24, 2017
The House Republicans wanted to repeal ObamaCare on the seventh anniversary of it being signed into law, and failed, even after trying to borrow tactics they ascribed to the Democrats. They may push through the latest version of the ACHA on Friday. But on Thursday, a little mockery seems fair. Peter Weber
In public, President Trump is having a great time pretending to drive big rigs and wearing pins that read "I Heart Trucks," but behind the scenes, he is seriously regretting throwing his support behind House Speaker Paul Ryan's health-care plan, The New York Times reports.
Four people close to the president told The Times he now wishes he had pushed through tax cuts first, which would have pleased Republicans, rather than focus on the deeply unpopular health-care overhaul. Stephen Bannon, Trump's chief strategist, and Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, are both in agreement with him, and Trump gave his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, a message that he delivered Thursday night to GOP leaders: Hold a vote on the health-care bill Friday, and if it fails, Trump is moving on.
The Times' Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman spoke with more than a dozen aides and allies of Trump, and they said he's spent the last week jittery and impatient. He's someone who cares more about winning than dealing with policy details, the people close to him explained, and he prides himself on making deals, sometimes at the last minute, which is why he's struggling with negotiating with moderate Republicans who think the health-care bill is too harsh and conservatives who think it doesn't go far enough. Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, has said for days he thinks it was a mistake for Trump to support the bill, and senior Republicans told The Times that Vice President Mike Pence suggested Trump keep his distance from the proposal, making sure to remind people that it was all Ryan's idea. Read more about Trump's self-doubt at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia