There they go again…! Last night’s (5/1/07) Herald had another example of the sort of anthropocentric environmental insensitivity and general nonsense we can continue to expect from the Herald and their editorial board. While the rest of the world is beginning to understand the damn damage that dams have done to our riparian and aquatic ecosystems—as acknowledged by the Herald’s admission that the trend is toward removing dams, not building them--the board goes against the flow and plays to local backward, anti-environmental sentiment by supporting the County appointed “Water and Stream Health” (WASH) Commission’s efforts to build one or more new dams in Baker County.
I am told the WASH Commission was formed to explore options to improve local stream health. Hey, guess what Herald--Guess what WASH. According to the World Commission on Dams, THE CONSENSUS AMONG RIVER ECOLOGISTS IS THAT DAMS ARE THE SINGLE GREATEST CAUSE OF THE DECLINE OF RIVER ECOSYSTEMS!
The natural rush of snow melt and rainwater in spring is what signals salmonids to migrate up river. To them it is not a “surplus” (as the herald puts it), but a necessity. But not to worry, because the Herald says that a dam or two will “nourish our [actually their--Ed] crops and sustain our fish” and that our “rivers and streams don’t harbor federally protected salmon or steelhead” so there shouldn’t be any “environmental controversy that could kill such a project outright or delay it for years….”
Well, actually, the North Powder does still contain protected bull trout, and just because the Bureau of Reclamation, FERC, power generators and users have helped to destroy the local native salmon and steelhead fishery by constructing dams, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any salmon or steelhead populations clinging to life down stream—populations that will need minimum and seasonally appropriate flows of their water to survive.
Simple fact: impounded water evaporates at a greater rate than it would in the same length of natural stream due to increased surface area. It is estimated that Lake Powell in Utah loses 163 billion gallons of water a year just to evaporation.
Simple fact #2: Irrigation through fields and furrows increases water surface area, which leads to increased rates of evaporation—up to a 50% loss.
Simple fact #3: Irrigated plants use irrigation water—that’s why people irrigate. Plants transpire large amounts of water into the atmosphere.
So I beg to differ. Storing water in a reservoir is the same as stealing from downstream users, struggling salmon and steelhead in particular. A lot of water disappears into thin air.
There is also the issue of restoring the natural salmonid fisheries that once existed in both the Powder and Malheur River watersheds. In early April, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld U.S. District Judge Redden’s rejection of the Bush administration’s laughable plan to save salmon, leaving open the possibility that hydroelectric dams on the lower Snake River could come down in an effort to help restore them. Take out a few more, including Hell’s Canyon and Oxbow, and you can begin to reclaim stolen upstream habitat to restore salmon and steelhead to Pine Creek, Powder River and the Malheur. Additional dams would likely hurt that effort. Let’s not dream about making water available to a few irrigators and recreationists, let’s dream about reclaiming water and stream habitat for steelhead, salmon and future generations.
ONDA Wins a Big One
Cows Destroy Public Lands
Here is a summary prepared by an ONDA representative (arbitrary and capricious = arb/cap):
-The court found the BiOps not moot because the short length of the biops make them "capable of repetition yet evading review."
-The court found NMFS' steelhead critical habitat determination to be arbitrary and capricious. NMFS improperly relied on the Forest Service's grazing management strategy and their claim of "near natural rates of recovery" because "NMFS has failed to evaluate whether short-term habitat degradation caused each grazing season will reduce the steelhead's ability to survive and recover." The court also noted the history of noncompliance with standards and the BiOps' "vague statements about what, if any, administrative corrective action will be taken against noncompliant permittees."
-The court found NMFS' steelhead no-jeopardy determination to be arb/cap because "there is no indication in the BiOps that NMFS considered any effects of grazing on the species in arriving at its no-jeopardy conclusion." While NMFS recognized the possibility of cattle directly stepping on redds (Fish "nurseries"), it "does not describe any effects on habitat caused by grazing in its allotment-specific analysis and, more importantly, does not indicate that it considered how the admitted habitat degradation would affect the survival and recovery of steelhead...."
-The court upheld the FWS BiOp's bull trout no-jeopardy determination.
-The court found NMFS' incidental take statement arb/cap because it did not consider whether incidental take from habitat degradation would occur. "Without an evaluation of indirect effects of grazing on an allotment by allotment basis, as discussed above, and given these admitted effects of grazing," NMFS' reasoning was arb/cap.
-The court found FWS' incidental take statement arb/cap becaause its take proxy authorizes a level of take that is reached only when "the project itself is complete" and is "coextensive with the project's own scope."
The hope is that the victory will inspire the Forest Service and ranchers to clean up their act, forest-wide.
(Note lack of streamside vegetation and trampling of banks)
(Cows remove all palatable vegetation, exposing banks to erosion & leaving little cover or shade for fish & wildlife)
From Democracy Now! 5/1/07
"Israeli Whistleblower Vanunu Convicted For Speaking to Media
The Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu might be heading back to jail soon for speaking to the international media. In 2004 Israel released Vanunu after he spent18 years in jail for disclosing information that proved Israel had a stockpile of nuclear weapons. After he was released, Israel barred Vanunu from speaking to the foreign press but Vanunu defied the order. He spoke to several foreign outlets including Democracy Now. On Monday an Israeli court convicted him of violating the terms of his release from jail."
Now that's my kind of "democracy." No wonder neighboring countries might think they need nuclear weapons. Israel, an illegally occupying power, isn't even a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty that we use to browbeat countries like Iran.
Two people sent me the following quote from Lee Iacocca, the ex-Chrysler CEO—definitely worth repeating:
Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course." Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I'll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out! You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don't need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we're fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That's not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for."
From Anti-Capitalism in Five Minutes or Less
By Robert Jensen
We know that capitalism is not just the most sensible way to organize an economy but is now the only possible way to organize an economy. We know that dissenters to this conventional wisdom can, and should, be ignored. There’s no longer even any need to persecute such heretics; they are obviously irrelevant.
How do we know all this? Because we are told so, relentlessly — typically by those who have the most to gain from such a claim, most notably those in the business world and their functionaries and apologists in the schools, universities, mass media, and mainstream politics. Capitalism is not a choice, but rather simply is, like a state of nature. Maybe not like a state of nature, but the state of nature. To contest capitalism these days is like arguing against the air that we breathe. Arguing against capitalism, we’re told, is simply crazy.
. . . .
TGILS: Thank God It’s Last Sunday
We have been gathering on Last Sunday precisely to be crazy together. We’ve come together to give voice to things that we know and feel, even when the dominant culture tells us that to believe and feel such things is crazy. Maybe everyone here is a little crazy. So, let’s make sure we’re being realistic. It’s important to be realistic.
One of the common responses I hear when I critique capitalism is, “Well, that may all be true, but we have to be realistic and do what’s possible.” By that logic, to be realistic is to accept a system that is inhuman, anti-democratic, and unsustainable. To be realistic we are told we must capitulate to a system that steals our souls, enslaves us to concentrated power, and will someday destroy the planet.
But rejecting and resisting a predatory corporate capitalism is not crazy. It is an eminently sane position. Holding onto our humanity is not crazy. Defending democracy is not crazy. And struggling for a sustainable future is not crazy.
What is truly crazy is falling for the con that an inhuman, anti-democratic, and unsustainable system — one that leaves half the world’s people in abject poverty — is all that there is, all that there ever can be, all that there ever will be.
If that were true, then soon there will be nothing left, for anyone.
I do not believe it is realistic to accept such a fate. If that’s being realistic, I’ll take crazy any day of the week, every Sunday of the month.
Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center http://thirdcoastactivist.org . His latest book is Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity (South End Press, 2007). Jensen is also the author of The Heart of Whiteness: Race, Racism, and White Privilege and Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (both from City Lights Books); and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream (Peter Lang). He can be reached at email@example.com. His articles can be found online at http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/index.html
Why there was no exit plan
By Lewis Seiler, Dan Hamburg
There are people in Washington ... who never intend to withdraw military forces from Iraq and they're looking for 10, 20, 50 years in the future ... the reason that we went into Iraq was to establish a permanent military base in the Gulf region, and I have never heard any of our leaders say that they would commit themselves to the Iraqi people that 10 years from now there will be no military bases of the United States in Iraq. -- former President Jimmy Carter, Feb. 3, 2006
04/30/07 "SFGate" -- -- - For all the talk about timetables and benchmarks, one might think that the United States will end the military occupation of Iraq within the lifetimes of the readers of this opinion editorial. Think again.
There is to be no withdrawal from Iraq, just as there has been no withdrawal from hundreds of places around the world that are outposts of the American empire. As UC San Diego professor emeritus Chalmers Johnson put it, "One of the reasons we had no exit plan from Iraq is that we didn't intend to leave."
"Protest that endures...is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one's own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence." Wendell Berry
There is a time in everyone’s life when they have to decide: Will they seek the truth and tell it like it is, or will they remain silent and suck ass for personal gain. The deteriorating world you see around you was shaped by the powerful because the majority of less fortunate souls chose to suck ass. – Guess Who?