“Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos Canyon)” with Arlo Guthrie and Hoyt Axton

June 21, 2018

Marker to the 28 Mexico citizens who died in the Los Gatos Canyon crash in 1948. University of Arizona image via Smithsonian Magazine

Marker to the 28 Mexico citizens who died in the Los Gatos Canyon crash in 1948. University of Arizona image via Smithsonian Magazine

Deportations plague much of recent U.S. history. It never works out well for the U.S., on the whole, especially mass deportations.

Hoyt Axton and Arlo Guthrie joined to sing Woody Guthrie’s account of one catastrophic deportation incident.

A more urgent version of the song, by Lance Canales and the Flood, featuring the names of the 28 who died.

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President Obama ordered U.S. flags to fly at half-staff, honoring victims of Boston explosions

April 16, 2013

lag at half-staff in Southborough, Massachusetts

A flag at half-staff in Southborough, Massachusetts (photo from 2010). Image from MySouthborough.com

This morning the White House issued a proclamation ordering U.S. flags at U.S. facilities worldwide to be flown at half-staff, honoring victims of the explosions in Boston, yesterday.

For Immediate Release .                                    April 16, 2013

Presidential Proclamation — Honoring the victims of the tragedy in Boston, Massachusetts

HONORING THE VICTIMS OF THE TRAGEDY IN BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

– – – – – – –

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on April 15, 2013, in Boston, Massachusetts, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, April 20, 2013. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.

BARACK OBAMA


Big Tex, RIP (1953-2012)

October 19, 2012

We took a few hours at the State Fair of Texas a few days ago.

Today comes the sad news that Big Tex, the symbol of the Fair, burned to his metal bones.

he two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.

Big Tex at 60, earlier this week, catching sun on a good Fair day.

It was more of an unposed photo, as Kathryn and James read about the landscaping and the use of large, unsculpted Oklahoma stone in the garden at his feet.

Kathryn Knowles and James Darrell at the feet of Big Tex, 2012-10-17 State Fair 2012 024

Kathryn and James admiring the rockscaping at Big Tex’s garden, October 16, 2012

Big Tex looked fine — if we’d thought his 60 years showed at all, I’d have worked to get the focus just right, and get more of Tex in the photo.

Later that evening I thought the Dracula lighting might show a bit of his years.  Maybe it was just the lighting, though.  It had been a long day, and it was less than a week before the end of his 2012 run.

Big Tex at night 2012-10-16 State Fair 2012 243

Dracula lighting at night highlighted craggy old Tex’s age, perhaps.

Tex had always been a popular stop, one place everyone knew.  The family safety plan always included Big Tex.  “Where do I go if we get separated.”  “We’ll meet at Big Tex.”  Heck, even after the advent of cell phones, Big Tex was a popular meet-up-after-the-fair-day location.

They say your arteries, veins and nerves get worn after a good life.  Big Tex had some electronics in him, and electrical motors, to operate his jaw and to allow an announcer (in a booth on the ground) to play the Voice of Big Tex, offering a Texas “Howdy, Folks!” to people coming in to the Fair for the first, or 100th time.  One of those pieces of wire seems to have crossed another one this morning, some time after 8:00 a.m., just as the Fair opened for it’s last Friday of 2012 (the Fair closes Sunday).

There was a spark.  And then, he was gone.

Big Tex on fire, photo by John McKibbin via DallasNews.com

Big Tex on fire, photo by John McKibbin via DallasNews.com

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Famine in Somalia: ‘This is a race against time to save lives’ | Need to Know (PBS)

July 24, 2011

About genocide and other political issues that lead to the deaths of tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of people:  We keep saying “never again!”  When is never?  There is famine today in Somalia.

Alison Stewart of PBS’s Need To Know:

This week, the U.N. declared a state of famine in parts of Somalia. Need to Know speaks with Adrian Edwards of the U.N.’s Refugee Agency about the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the region.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Video: Famine in Somalia: ‘This is a race again…, posted with vodpod

[2014 Update: Video expired, no longer available for streaming. Story and some details, here.]

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Troops who fought in two wars now protect public against Missouri River flood and nuclear accident

July 10, 2011

Hoax claims died down a bit across the blogosphere, but the Missouri River still floods, and the two Nebraska nuclear power plants on the Missouri still face threats from the flood.

Comes news via the Omaha World-Herald that members of Nebraska’s and Iowa’s Air National Guard — many of them veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan — patrol the levees, helping protect against floods.  Among points of special concern are the nuclear power plants at Fort Calhoun and Cooper.

The military helicopter’s black shadow dances on an engorged Missouri River as the aircraft slowly loops the flood-encircled Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station — the same left-leaning turns the pilot navigated two days prior.

Warrant Officer Boe Searight, 32, with the Nebraska Air National Guard wants the infrared camera mounted under the chopper to record similar flood scenes for levee experts on the ground to compare.

He and his colleague Chief Warrant Officer 2 Eric Schriner also are looking for new signs of trouble for the flooded plant.

“Keep daily eyes on it and see if anything changes,” says Schriner, 31.

Far below, on mosquito-infested riverbanks, two-person crews with the Nebraska National Guard and Iowa National Guard patrol the Omaha and Council Bluffs levees in mud-caked boots.

Members of the Guard are the front-line levee watchers in an operation that clearly has high stakes: Levees protect about 40,000 people from homelessness in the neighboring river cities — as well as the region’s key airport.

The levee watchers are out there right now — three shifts a day, all week, searching for gopher holes, chasing away sightseers who could fall from the levees, and checking for signs of water seepage.

More than 130 men and women with the Nebraska Army and Air National Guard work each day for flood duty, along with 120 from the Iowa Army and Air National Guard.

The idea is to spot trouble early. Levees don’t always give notice before they rupture, but more often than not they do.

If trouble is spotted, steps can be taken to shore up or boost a weakened levee.

Good to know.  Still no nuclear incident along the lines of the hoax report from the Pakistani outlet alleged to be based on a report from a Russian agency — which is also good news — but no cause for abatement of overall concern.

Sometimes safety preparations work.  Kudos to the Air National Guards, to the Nuclear Regulatory Agency, and to the companies who own  the power plants.  May their work continue to pay off in no nuclear incidents.

Idaho Samizdat noted earlier that the bizarre conspiracy theories haven’t borne out as accurate or true in the least:

The flooding situation in Nebraska has been the subject of bizarre conspiracy theories originating in Russia and Pakistan alleging that a meltdown has occurred at Ft. Calhoun and that the government is covering it up.

One U.S. web site, Business Insider, ran with the story as legitimate and set off a huge round of copy cat reports on the Internet.

Reports of a U.S. news blackout are also part of the conspiracy theory even though Nebraska papers such as the Omaha World-Herald and the New York Times have run major stories on measures by the two reactor sites to prevent the flood waters from reaching important infrastructure such as switch yards


Do bednets make a difference?

September 4, 2010

Go see these two Associated Press photos from Pakistan, at MSNBC’s site — same location, same day.


Boy Scout died in fall from Utah’s Gemini Bridges

July 19, 2010

Tragic accident at a spectacular site in Utah’s desert.

A Scout from Wisconsin attempted a leap from one part of a natural bridge to another, lost his balance and fell to his death.  According to the Salt Lake Tribune in Salt Lake City:

A Wisconsin Boy Scout died Saturday after falling 100 feet from Grand County’s Gemini Bridges.

Anthony Alvin, 18, of Green Lake, Wis., was with a Scout group at the Gemini Bridges rock formation, which is on federal land northwest of Moab, deputies wrote in a press statement. At about 9:30 a.m., Alvin tried to jump from one span of the double bridge to the other span, six feet away, when he fell backwards, dropping 100 feet to the bottom of the bridges.

Rescuers rappelled off the bridges and found Alvin had died. His body was lowered down two separate cliffs to the bottom of Bull Canyon, deputies wrote.

Erin Alberty

Anthony Alvin was a member of Troop 630 from Green Lake, Wisconsin, in the Bay Lakes Council, BSA.  The Troop has years of experience in high adventure trips.  This was a transition trip for Alvin, moving from Scout to leader.

High adventure Scouting takes teens to outstanding places with some risks.  Strict safety rules protect Scouts and leaders from most accidents.  Jumping the gap between the two natural bridge sections is a leap that experienced rock climbers and Scouters should advise against — and probably did — precisely because of the dangers of minor mishaps, 100 feet or more in the air.  A six-foot gap would look eminently leapable to a capable young man.

This is a picture of Gemini Bridges from below:

Gemini Bridges, near Moab, Utah - NaturalArches.org image

Gemini Bridges, near Moab, Utah, from below. Image from NaturalArches.org image, photo by Galen Berry.

NaturalArches.org includes details about many of these natural spans in the desert Southwest, in Utah and Arizona.  For Gemini Bridges we get this warning note:

These magnificent twin bridges are a popular 4-wheel drive destination on BLM land northwest of Moab, Utah. A few foolhardy individuals have lost their lives here. One person fell to his death while attempting to jump the 10 feet between the two spans, and in October 1999 a jeep and driver fell 160 feet off the outer span.

From atop the bridges, the gap between the two can appear deceptively small — see one view here.

Gemini Bridges from the trail, on top - PaulandKate.com

For safety’s sake, no one should attempt to leap the gap without proper rock-climbing safety equipment in place and in use — and frankly, I’m not sure how it could be secured even then, in the sandstone.

Redrock country brings out the worst in otherwise adventurous-but-mostly-sane people.  Even rock climbers will act irresponsibly.

Four-wheelers and off-road vehicles frequently climb these trails — despite the dangers, the area offers a huge playground for people out of the jurisdiction of the National Park Service or National Forest Service, each of which discourage excessive vehicular risk taking.   Several sites extoll the glories of conquering these deserts with gasoline-power.

Irresponsible jump at Gemini Bridges, from rockclimbing.com

Irresponsible jump at Gemini Bridges captured on film, from rockclimbing.com

The photo at the bottom shows a memorial plaque to the four-wheeler who lost his life off of Gemini Bridges in 1999.  So long as people make monuments to people who pull daredevil stunts, others who have less experience, or even more sense, will be tempted to try the same daredevil stuff.

Go to these wild and beautiful places.  Please remember they are treacherous, however, and stay safe.

Tribute to Beau James Daley, who died when his jeep plunged off of Gemini Bridges, Utah

Tribute to Beau James Daley, who died when his jeep plunged off of Gemini Bridges, Utah

Also at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:

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