Comeback for the Tasmanian tiger?

image taken from: BBC News

Who doesn’t love marsupials? Weird names, fun appearances, and ranks that include nature’s kick boxer, the creature that mastered playing dead, and a deceptively cute psychopathic bear-thing. Recently, there’s one species that’s made a return after its supposed extinction in 1936: the thylacine, or as most people recognize it, the Tasmanian Tiger.

The return was spotted by two people from the Queensland National Parks Service at the Cape York Peninsula. After scientists from James Cook University studied the description given, it was confirmed that it was not mistaken for some other Tasmanian or non-Tasmanian creature (in case it’s not obvious, I enjoy the word Tasmanian), and was 100% percent a thylacine. For those of you wondering, the Tasmanian Tiger doesn’t even look remotely like a tiger (receiving its name from the stripes running down its lower back), resembling a wild dog more than anything else, which is why it’s also referred to as the Tasmanian Wolf. But like both tiger and wolf, the thylacine was top of the food chain.

So, now the aforementioned scientists have packed up the camera equipment and are ready to begin the search. Fitting as there are several unanswered questions like: what has it been living off of thus far? Why was it spotted in Australia and not Tasmania? And the million-dollar question (or you know, probably less), how exactly did it stay hidden all this time? And even if this turns out to be a bust/hoax, there will be a substantial amount of data regarding endangered species within the area. But still, fingers crossed for beating extinction!

NBA playoff predictions

The NBA regular season has come to an end, and the playoffs are finally here. The playoffs started on Saturday, April 15th. There will be 16 teams each from the Western Conference and Eastern Conference. The Golden State Warriors hold the 1st seed in the West. The Boston Celtics hold the 1st seed in the East. The Warriors are the obvious favorites this year after going 67-15; the best record in the NBA.

The best matchup in the first round will be in the West. James Harden, and the 3-seeded Houston Rockets, face Russell Westbrook, and the 6-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder. Westbrook recently broke the single season triple-double record with 42. Oscar Robertson was the original record holder with 41 triple-doubles in one season. Westbrook has proven his case for MVP, while others believe James Harden deserves the MVP because Houston has a better record, and Harden shows a lot of leadership by being one of Houston’s only great players. Both players play the point guard position.

Another exciting matchup, but for the East, is the 3-seeded Toronto Raptors hosting the 6-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. The Raptors are led by star shooting guard Demar Derozan who helped carry his team when all-star point guard Kyle Lowry was injured. The Milwaukee Bucks are led by small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo [ˈʝanis a(n)detoˈkun(m)bo] who stands at 6 feet 11 inches. He leads the Bucks in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. He carries the whole team and will have to continue to do so if they want to beat the Raptors.

My official finals prediction is the 1-seeded Golden State Warriors vs. the 2-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors finally have Kevin Durant back after a long injury recovery, and if he can stay healthy the Warriors should be able to cruise to the Finals. The Cavaliers have struggled late in the season but still prove to be the only team that could make it out of the East. They have many stars in Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and of course LeBron James. I believe the Warriors will win this year. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson really stepped up when Durant got injured, and the Warriors starting five may be the best the NBA has seen in awhile. My prediction: Warriors win in 6 games.

House Bill 2

Opponents of House Bill 2 protest across the street from the North Carolina State Capitol in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, April 11, 2016 during a rally in support of the law that blocks rules allowing transgender people to use the bathroom aligned with their gender identity. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

The controversial North Carolina bill officially called House Bill 2 and unofficially called the “Bathroom Bill” has been making waves ever since it was passed in March of 2016. Almost exactly a year later, on March 30th, of 2017, the law was repealed. To understand the swift about-face, you need to understand just what the bill meant.

First of all, it was the bill that made North Carolina the first state to openly restrict what public bathrooms, and locker rooms, transgender people were allowed to use, limiting them to the gender they were designated at birth, not the gender they identify as. Backlash against the bigoted bill was almost immediate, and was only worsened by the fact that North Carolina is a swing state; split between very liberal cities and very conservative rural areas.

The bill caused many businesses and celebrities to boycott the entire state in protest: Bruce Springsteen cancelled his stop on the River Tour there, and a PayPal distribution center that was supposed to open there withdrew from the deal, costing the state millions of dollars of potential profit. The NCAA gave the state until Thursday, March 30th (the day the bill was repealed, incidentally), to get rid of the law or lose the rights to host college tournaments in the state for the next six years. Many smaller businesses and performers boycotted the state as well. Eventually, North Carolina surrendered to the growing economic and social strain, and removed the law.

However, it did come with a catch. The conditions for the repeal included a temporary ban (lasting for three years, until 2020) on other anti-discrimination laws and measures; stopping local jurisdictions from creating new protections for LGBT+ people. Many are angry about this new measure, and there’s been debate over whether it’s even any better than House Bill 2. 

Overall, whether this is a step forward, or a step back, for LGBT+ rights has yet to be decided.