06 August 2010


GOOD NEWS. Aircraft manufacturer Icon has announced the newest entry into the rapidly-growing Light Sport Aircraft market, its amphibious A5, an extremely sleek and sexy plane (see photo below). As with all new models, I'll give it a year or two before outright endorsement, since some promising designs don't make it to production. But a fella can dream. Check the Icon website and click on all the photo galleries and videos under the "Experience Icon" header -- looks like a lot of fun.

This headline in today's Missoulian made my spirits soar -- "Molloy orders reinstatement of gray wolf protections in Montana, Idaho." US District Judge Donald Malloy ordered the gray wolf back on the endangered species list, noting that "populations in Idaho and Montana cannot be considered separately from Wyoming's wolves .... the Endangered Species Act does not allow only part of a species to be listed as endangered, nor does it allow a distinct population segment to be subdivided." This is only common sense. A biological population is distributed within entire ecosystems, limited by climate, habitat and prey populations. State or other political boundaries are not relevant to wild animals.

Last year, both Idaho and Montana held state-licensed wolf hunts. Idaho's official kill was 185 wolves, and Montana's was 73 wolves. Both states had planned another wolf season this fall, with substantially higher kill quotas. Those hunts are now on hold. (And I'm thinking, YES!!) At the end of 2009, there were 843 wolves in Idaho, 524 in Montana, and 320 in Wyoming. Which may sound like a lot, until you consider the thousands of square miles of habitat in these three western states alone.

The ruling also means that ranchers can no longer (legally) "haze, harrass or kill wolves that prey on their livestock." As I suggested in a previous post, control of problem wolves should be conducted on a case-by-case basis by trained and licensed wildlife agents. I do sympathize with ranchers who legitimately lose livestock to wolves, and (as a friend who does not share my views toward wolves noted recently) it is simple reality that some livestock owners will quietly take the law into their own hands. We need a better, more effective procedure for control, one which both protects these top predators, and also protects the interests of rural residents. Simple recompense for losses is not enough. Killing or relocating problem predators is not enough. I don't have a good solution yet, and am open to suggestions. In the meantime, I'm elated that the wholesale slaughter of wolves through state-licensed hunts has been put on hold. That solution was too random, and out of proportion to the scale of the problem.

BAD NEWS. Another headline, this one in the NYTimes: "Xenophobia -- Fear-mongering for American Votes." Do Republican conservatives know no shame? There is a move afoot to deny citizenship to children born in the United States, if their parents are not citizens. This flies directly in the face of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution -- "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." In the current racist atmosphere which spawned Arizona's hateful (and now eviscerated) immigration law, it is essential to remind ourselves that "citizenship is not a question of race, color, beliefs, wealth, political status or bloodline. It cannot fall prey to political whims or debates over who is worthy to be an American."

This exclusionary mindset is totally alien to me. Of all nations on the planet, the US is the most diverse -- culturally, ethnically, racially -- precisely because (ideally) we welcome immigrants of all backgrounds, from all nations. The mentality that says, "Okay, I've made it in, now let's slam the door on all those unkempt hordes still trying to find a better life" ... that mentality is selfish, myopic and witless.

A child born to American parents who happen to be living abroad, is automatically a US citizen, as well as a citizen of the country in which the child is born. A child born in the US, to parents who are not citizens, is still a citizen by birth. This is as it should be. The more welcoming and inclusive we are, the richer our lives, our economy and our national identity. Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Sessions, and John Kyl (among others), bow your heads in shame.

AN ANNIVERSARY. On this date in 1991, British computer programmer Tim Berners-Lee first posted files describing his ideas for a system of interlinked, hypertext documents accessible on the Internet, to be called a World Wide Web. Talk about your quiet revolutions. Talk about your paradigm shifts. The world has been completely transformed in less than two decades, in ways arguably far faster and more profound than the exploration of the New World, or the Industrial Revolution. A world library, communication beyond our wildest dreams, with no end in sight. Cheers to us all.

No comments:

Post a Comment