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Chimp mauling, octomom clog Congressional operations

Ross Wasserstrom

Issue date: 3/6/09 Section: Opinion
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As you may have read or seen in the news recently, a 200-pound chimpanzee named Travis mauled a woman in Connecticut on Feb. 16. While this gruesome bit of news made for several sensational headlines and distracted us from "octomom" briefly, there was one group of Americans who became particularly involved with the story: Congress.

Just eight days after the attack, the House of Representatives voted 323-95 to amend the Lacey Act, a federal law from 1900 that bans the interstate transport and sale of dangerous and "non-native" species, to include chimps and other large primates. In the process, several priceless sound bites escaped the mouths of our elected officials, such as Utah Rep. Rob Bishop's often-cited comment,"The bill does nothing to prohibit a monkey from biting unless the monkey was willing to chase the woman from Connecticut over to New York State," among many others.

But a quick glance at the (real) news today reminded me that we are indeed in quite a national quagmire regardless of an impending epidemic of chimp mauling.

A "down payment" of more than $600 billion for national healthcare was announced last week by President Obama; the Dow Jones has dipped to half of what its value was this time last year; the nearly $800 billion economic recovery package was just signed into law last week; and all of this will be paid for by China, which is exactly what Republicans and Democrats alike vowed to prevent.

Speaking to a larger issue, however, this is hardly the first time that a sensationalized piece of trivial news has taken a national, and federal, stage. The chimp story took over from octomom (Nadya Suleman, a California woman without employment or a spouse who recently gave birth to octuplets), but before these recent stories others have come and gone, often leaving their mark in some ridiculous legislation.

This is significant because our top-level government officials are short on time and information to begin with, even when there is real legislation to be dealt with. Many large and important bills, such as the economic recovery bill, can read more than 500 pages, and as senators and representatives alike will admit, they have very little time to read any of them.
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In This Issue

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  • Spartan Spotlight: Phil Keefe
  • Track & Field: Nwanna mastering all trades
  • Women's basketball struggles in second half, falls to Emory

Fun Page

  • Crossword Answers
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Opinion

  • Chimp mauling, octomom clog Congressional operations
  • Editorial: Grant selection process needs refinement
  • Good night's sleep brings health, success

Focus

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  • Memoir strays from current popular topics, brings refreshing take to genre
  • Sex and Dating: The benefits of casual sex
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  • Spring break 2009: a slice of Case students' travel plans
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  • The Worst Case Scenario: Enjoying Cleveland in the spring
  • U2 expands Horizon with experimental album
  • Watchmen delivers on hype, lives up to comics
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