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'I don't see no p'ints about that frog that's any better'n any other frog.'

Monday, July 23, 2007

"'What might it be that you've got in the box?'

"And Smiley says, sorter indifferent-like, 'It might be a parrot, or it might be a canary, maybe, but it ain't—it's only just a frog.'

"And the feller took it, and looked at it careful, and turned it round this way and that, and says, 'H'm—so 'tis. Well, what's he good for?'

"'Well,' Smiley says, easy and careless, 'he's good enough for one thing, I should judge—he can outjump any frog in Calaveras County.'

"The feller took the box again, and took another long, particular look, and give it back to Smiley, and says, very deliberate, 'Well,' he says, 'I don't see no p'ints about that frog that's any better'n any other frog.'"

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Apparently Julie A. MacDonald didn't see anything special about the California red-legged frog either. MacDonald's the former deputy secretary of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who was forced to resign after an investigation found she may have ignored science to render decisions favorable to interests with influence in the Bush Administration. The croaker, immortalized in Mark Twain's "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" (1865), was one of at least eight endangered species affected by MacDonald's rulings, which are now under review. The Sacramento Bee reports:

The new reviews will reopen some intensely fought endangered species battles. They range from removing protections for a jumping mouse in Colorado to shrinking the critical habitat designed for the Southwestern willow flycatcher and the Canada lynx.

In California, the agency will be reviewing MacDonald's role in drastically reducing the critical habitat set aside for the California red-legged frog. Last spring, the agency designated 450,288 acres as critical habitat for the amphibian . . . Under MacDonald's guidance, the frog's final critical habitat was 39 percent smaller than scientists had proposed.

[snip]

MacDonald, for instance, was found to have leaked endangered species information to the California Farm Bureau Federation and the conservative Sacramento-based Pacific Legal Foundation that she did not make available to environmental groups.

The worldwide crash in populations of frogs and other amphibians has been well documented—some 90 percent of yellow-legged frogs in the Sierra Nevada have disappeared.

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