Monday, December 31, 2007

Eat, drink, and be merry

Yes, kids... 2008 is the year of Bacchanalia... because, frankly, it's all going to be undeniably hellish in the very near future. The AP issued this story today which is grabbing some attention, "Global warming to alter Calif. landscape." The story chronicles likely changes to coastlines and mountaintops, but some folks appear unfazed by this information:
"There's always plenty of snow, but you may just have to go out of state for it," said Rinda Wohlwend, 62, who belongs to two ski clubs in Southern California. "I'm a very avid tennis player, so I'd probably play more tennis."
As long we can still play something, why worry?

Oh. Uh-oh. But this doesn't look good:
Changes in the mountain snowpack could lead to expensive water disputes between cities and farmers....Any drastic changes to the state's $30 billion agriculture industry would have national implications, since California's fertile valleys provide half the country's fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables....

"Obviously, it's going to mean that choices are going to be made about who's going to get the water," said Brian Nowicki, a biologist in Tucson, Ariz.
I'm guessing that the rich are going to get the water. Anyone want to bet against me?

When you are making your last minute tax-deductible donations to the non-profits of your choosing, you might think about saving some back to spend on a tennis racket.

Love-all.

- Lozen

Thursday, December 27, 2007

La frontera peligrosa

A depressing article here highlights the scientists who are abandoning work along the U.S.-Mexico border because of the increasing danger of conflict with drug smugglers. The article quotes a growing number of researchers who won't work in Mexico or near the border now.

I know first-hand how terrifying it is to have close calls out there in the desert. Take my word for it. However, it's really unsettling that this article doesn't provide a single interview with the people who still do work on the border and how they reconcile the same threats with their desire to study the amazing bi-national biomes. Fear got all the airplay.

And hey, let's not forget the basics: It's Americans who are demanding the drugs! That's right- your cheap Mexican marijuana New Year's Eve stash is the reason Karen Krebbs can't count lesser long-nosed bats in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. The drug smugglers are just doing the dirty work of getting it into your hands.

But we can't really blame the smugglers for this situation. Gotta go a little deeper with this and blame our crappy drug policies, as well as our inability and- let's face it- unwillingness to stop the drug economy. And let's not forget the the border wall itself, which has pushed illegal traffic into formerly-remote areas that used to be safe to study.

- Lozen

Alternative to the Border Wall?

We're glad to know that someone is thinking of more eco-friendly alternatives to the border wall. (That is, besides not having a border at all- and good luck with that!) Yuma, Arizona, hotbed of liberalism, has dreamed up this fantastic idea:
The idea calls for creating a marshland along the lower Colorado River south of Yuma by clearing thick brush, building steep levees and flooding dry riverbanks....Smugglers would have to scale a steep, 15-foot levy, cross a 400-foot-wide marsh that is 10 feet deep in places, then scale another levy studded with metal posts designed to halt trucks.
This artificial wetland could help make up for lost habitat due to repairs on the All-American (AMERICAN!) Canal. We've been to those wetlands, by the way, and they are beautiful. Like a junkie, eh?

Sigh.

Back to the border alternatives: Chertoff now has options. The Omnibus Spending Bill included provisions that now allow alternatives to the double-layered border wall that was previously required by the Secure Fence Act. It also allows a little bit of discretion as to where the damn thing gets built.
But you can bet your ass that profiteers Granite Construction will be angling to build as much fence as possible. Hell, their stock is already climbing.

- Lozen

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Europe is so much cooler than the U.S.

And here's at least one reason why: They are celebrating the opening of borders while we persist in delimiting ours with enormous steel walls.
The elimination of border posts and passports to travel between the countries of Europe is rightly seen as symbolic of the elimination of the old fears and hates that led to so many European wars over the centuries. It's difficult to harbor ancient suspicions about other peoples when just a few hours traveling takes a European from Italy to Norway without so much as a pause at a border.
Quite unlike border crossings between Sonora, Mexico and Arizona, where you have to sit in line for hours just to pass the "white check."

- Lozen

Friday, December 21, 2007

Pants on Fire

Yesterday we linked to the High Country News article in which a ranch hand in New Mexico flat-out admitted leaving a brand-bloodied heifer out to provoke a Mexican gray wolf to eat her, after using the radio collar tracking device to figure out where she was denning. (See yesterday's post, "Damn Shame")

Today, the ABQ Journal expanded on the travesty by interviewing the ranch hand again, this time, presumably sober and more aware of the enormous implications of his bullshit. Surprise, surprise: He's changed his story. (You have to endure a brief ad to read the story.)
"He [the HCN author] should be writing children's books," Miller [the alleged wolf-baiter] said. "He made that all up, that whole story. I sat there and laughed at it. ... There ain't nothing about that whole story that has any truth to it."
Righty-O.

The outraged president of the Gila Livestock Growers Association and outspoken foe of wildlife weighed in, calling the article a "slash piece" and insisting that Miller and his wife are "sweet people" and good caretakers of livestock.
"They would never do such a thing. That would be so abusive. It's beyond my scope of imagination," she said.
Right. Raising living beings for their flesh, sticking hot irons into said flesh, fisting as a way of impregnation- these ordinary ranching activities aren't abusive at all.

A few enviro groups are calling for the permit to be revoked, as well it should be, but we're not placing any bets on it. It isn't clear that one HCN article will be enough to convince the agencies that these ranchers need to be booted.... and frankly, this kind of shit probably happens all the time. I can only imagine, I mean.

- Lozen

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Damn shame.

Those SOBs in Catron County just don't know when to quit. High Country News today reports on the ranch hand on the Adobe-Slash Ranch in New Mexico who baited Mexican gray wolves with a about-to-birth heifer in order to invoke the three-strikes removal.
On June 21, he branded cattle less than a half-mile from the wolves’ den, the enticing aroma of seared flesh surely reaching the pack’s super-sensitive nostrils. Miller was, in essence, offering up a cow as a sacrifice.

The government’s Mexican gray wolf reintroduction rulebook says that a rancher cannot shoot a wolf simply because she threatens his livestock. But if a single wolf kills three cows or sheep or other domestic animals in a single year, then federal officers may kill or capture the wolf. The wolf Miller had his eye on already had two strikes against her; Miller was hoping for a third.

"We would sacrifice a calf to get a third strike," Miller told High Country News, candidly revealing a tactic that could help ranchers get the upper hand in their protracted, bloody war against the endangered Mexican wolves.
And the blood, Mr. Miller, is on your hands for this alpha-female of a species that millions of Americans care about.

This admission comes on the heels of the disappearance of not one but three collared wolves in their recovery area this week. The NM Cattlegrowers were quick to say they had nothing to do with it.

Wolf-hating. Wolf-baiting. It's a traditional lifestyle.

- Lozen

Monday, December 17, 2007

Must be getting a little itchy in those pointy boots.

Wow. The Arizona Republic landed a knock-out punch on the livestock industry today with this editorial: Let Wolves Prosper. It basically outlines how ranchers have thus far been allowed to dictate the terms and conditions of the Mexican gray wolf recovery effort in Arizona and New Mexico (and, let's face it, everywhere else too), ensuring failure.
It's one more example of how the larger public interest in restoring this top predator to the food chain has been sublimated to the narrow wishes of a special interest group. Ranchers pay grazing fees to use public lands. That doesn't buy exclusive rights.
Ka-Pow! And this:
The value of predators to the overall health of the ecosystem is well understood. People care about restoring wolves to the wild for scientific, aesthetic, spiritual and emotional reasons. Ranchers can choose to be part of that effort or they can get out of the way. They should not be allowed to undermine it.
Kaboom!

Note that at the end of the article, it calls for public comment on the wolf reintroduction plan that is currently floating in the scoping phase, and more info can be found and comments can be submitted here. Talking points for comments are up on Western Watersheds Project and Sierra Club websites.

- Lozen

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

December 23, 2012...

is the day the Mayan calendar ends. Summer 2013 will perhaps be the first without any ice in the arctic.

Coincidence?

- Lozen

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Jim Gilchrist Hearts Huckabee

The Minuteman Founder, Jim Gilchrist, has endorsed Mike "AIDS Isolation" Huckabee. Huckabee said at a press conference that he was honored to receive the endorsement.
Gilchrist praised Huckabee’s recently released immigration plan that calls for fencing the border, eliminating some categories of legal immigration and other security measures.
They are clearly two crazy peas in a crazy pod.

This "illegal invasion" wouldn't happen to stem from starving out Latin America under NAFTA, would it? Couldn't be partly our fault, could it?

We're slated to begin dumping subsidized sugar on Mexico next month.

Charming.

The solutions to our border issues lie in revoking these trade agreements that disenfranchise poor agriculture-based economies. The solution to the border infrastructure nightmare that the GOP is promising us will be to pass the Borderlands Conservation and Security Act.

- Lozen

Monday, December 10, 2007

Now we're getting somewhere!

Joe Lieberman, whom we never though we'd be hailing here, wants Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to explain why he ordered environmental studies on a planned border fence in Texas, but bypassed such a study in Arizona. Chertoff's spokeperson, Russell Knocke, said they would answer the Senator's questions but that the public should keep in mind that
...The agency also had to consider that the Interior Department was advising the public of the dangers of going to parts of the San Pedro conservation area because of a rise in crime and violence.

By waiving environmental laws, the agency can build the fence more quickly and stem the criminal activity. The fence also will help the environment by curbing the cars, water and food containers, clothing and other trash discarded in the desert.
The article also generally mentions that Section 102 is being challenged by the Sierra Club and Defenders or Wildlife as unconstitutional. Hooray for them, to Lieberman, and boo-hiss to Chertoff, who always neglects to account for the jaguar, the ocelot, the black bear, and the myriad other species whose route across the international border is blocked by his ugly, useless wall.

- Lozen

Friday, December 07, 2007

Secretary Strong-Arm

Michael Chertoff is threatening the Texas landowners who have thus far resisted his border wall with an ultimatum: Hand it over or I'll take it from you.
Nothing makes a landowner more unhappy than the idea of condemnation of land, the idea of being forced to turn land over to government.
OK, so we're not usually on the side of the property-rights crowd, especially when it comes to endangered species. In this case, however, it is apparent that the DHS is wielding its authority like a club, again.

We consider this a little bit of good news about the situation in Texas: "...about 40 landowners have refused to provide access to their land. Of the total, 110 have not responded or can't be located and 258 have given the government the access..." Isn't it good to know that the government isn't keeping tabs on everybody yet? Better get those towers working, Boeing.

- Lozen

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Boeing's Border smackdown

Huh. You mean the virtual fence project on the U.S.- Mexico border isn't working?
[The] network of ground sensors, radar and high-powered cameras that will scan the desert constantly and could help the Border Patrol "gain operational control" of this vast and wild land....But so far, SBInet has been a disappointment... The 28-mile pilot phase called "Project 28" is already five months behind schedule, bogged down by the difficulties in making cameras and radars work together properly.- St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Mississippi Democrat Rep. Bennie Thompson takes the criticism a step further, in a letter to Michael Chertoff: He is pressuring the Homeland Security Department to delay acceptance of Boeing Co.'s troubled "virtual fence" because the lawmaker isn't confident the high-tech system will work as promised on the Arizona-Mexico border. We're with ya, Bennie. But, then again, we're not agitating that they fix the surveillance towers either. We're creeped out by spying. Call us crazy.

And speaking of crazy, check this out: The Department of Homeland Insecurity has a new reason for building the border wall on the San Pedro River.
"When weighing the safety of a lizard with the protection of a human being, the choice is painstakingly obvious," he added. "The methamphetamine that could otherwise be smuggled through that very area absent that border structure will ultimately jeopardize the health and safety of an adult or child somewhere else in America."
Can't they stick to the rotten-teeth scratched-up meth-addict posters instead?

UPDATE FOR ALL THE WSJ READERS LOGGING ON: Money talks. Oh yes, money has a direct line to the Department of Homeland Security. And that line looks suspiciously like the border wall. But don't take it from us: here's what those neighbors to the north have to say about it.

- Lozen

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Meanwhile, back at the ranch....

The shady dealings of the Department of Interior in collusion with the DHS in regard to the border wall were exposed on the Tucson-area PBS-station, KUAT. An excellent piece about the back-room land swap between the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge and the devil can be found here, "Border Fence fast-tracked on protected lands". Yep, folks, DHS was told to "Git 'er done," and by hook and with crooks, that's exactly what they aim to do.

By golly.

- Lozen.