Taxpayers Losing Millions as Feds OK Logging in Roadless Forests

The Tongass and Chugach National Forests contain some of the largest remaining stands of roadless ancient temperate rainforest in the U.S. They hug the coast of southeast Alaska, providing habitat for numerous wildlife species—river otters, grizzly bears, bald eagles, mountain goats, wolves, salmon, and more. Vital local industries, including commercial fishing and tourism, depend upon the health of the Tongass and Chugach. [1]

The Roadless Area Conservation Rule, enacted in January 2001, protects areas like these from commercial logging. It also protects against oil and gas drilling, as well as extensive off-road vehicle use. [2] In May 2001, Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman expressed support for the Roadless Rule, calling it “the right thing to do.” [3]

But when the state of Alaska filed a lawsuit in 2001 the Bush administration chose not defend the rule. [4] Instead, last June it proposed exempting the Tongass from the Roadless Rule’s protection.
During the 45-day public comment period, about a quarter of a million citizens sent in comments. Laurie Cooper, manager of the Alaska Rainforest Campaign, told BushGreenwatch that “99 percent of these were in favor of keeping protections on both the Tongass and the Chugach. The public is very much in support of protecting our last wild forests.”

Nonetheless, last December the Bush Administration announced the exemption of the Tongass from the Roadless Rule. [5] According to Cooper, the indefinite, supposedly temporary, exemption of the Tongass opens up 9.3 million acres of ancient forest for road development and timber sales. If extended to the 5 million eligible acres of the Chugach, a quarter of the land originally covered by the Roadless Rule will be unprotected….

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During the 45-day public comment period, about a quarter of a million citizens sent in comments. Laurie Cooper, manager of the Alaska Rainforest Campaign, told BushGreenwatch that “99 percent of these were in favor of keeping protections on both the Tongass and the Chugach. The public is very much in support of protecting our last wild forests.”

Nonetheless, last December the Bush Administration announced the exemption of the Tongass from the Roadless Rule. [5] According to Cooper, the indefinite, supposedly temporary, exemption of the Tongass opens up 9.3 million acres of ancient forest for road development and timber sales. If extended to the 5 million eligible acres of the Chugach, a quarter of the land originally covered by the Roadless Rule will be unprotected.

Cooper sees no economic justification for this level of logging. “Despite what the Forest Service or the Bush administration would like to portray, the decline of the timber industry is not due to the protection of these wild roadless areas,” she says. “There was a series of pulp mill closures, as well as an increase in supply from other regions of the world that made it uneconomical to log in the Tongass.”

Logging in the Tongass actually costs American taxpayers millions of dollars. According to the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, “A recent analysis by the Southeastern Alaska Conservation Council estimates that U.S. taxpayers spent $170,000 for every direct timber job created by logging in the Tongass National Forest in 2002–an amount equal to more than four times the average U.S. household income ($42,409) for the same year.” The timber program could lose up to $30 million a year through non-competitive and under-valued timber sales. Plus, there is a $900 million backlog of deferred maintenance and capitol improvements to existing Tongass roads. [6]

“For 2001, spending on the planning process, as well as road construction, cost $36 million,” says Cooper. “And in return, receipts were $1.2 million. It’s a federal subsidy to keep the timber industry operating in the Tongass.”

The Bush administration wants to make the Tongass and Chugach exemptions permanent. It may use them to gut the Roadless Rule, which also protects some 44 million acres of forest in the lower 48 states. The administration is said to be preparing an extensive revision of the rule to give governors options to apply for exemptions in their states. [7]

As Cooper noted, Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey was previously a top lobbyist for the timber industry.

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TAKE ACTION
Tell Congress to protect the roadless areas of the Tongass National Forest , and end taxpayer-subsidized logging, with Alaska Rainforest Campaign’s free fax form.

Bear Protection Suit Available on Ebay

eBay item 3814121772 (Ends 15-May-04 10:23:19 EDT) – Ursus Mark-VI and VII bear suit set

Canadian inventor Troy Hurtubise spent 10 years perfecting the Ursus Mark-VI suit of armour, which is made of chain mail, galvanized steel, titanium, high-tech plastic, and liquid rubber.

The suit was featured in the National Film Board of Canada documentary Project Grizzly, which turned Hurtubise into a cult hero. It was also featured on Ripley’s Believe It or Not TV and in the Guinness Book of World Records, for the most expensive animal research suit.

Ursus Mark-VII eliminates the chain mail and is made from stainless steel, aluminum and cast titanium. It also features a built-in video screen, a cooling system, pressure-bearing titanium struts, protective airbags, shock absorbers, a robotic third arm, built-in regular arms and swivel shoulders.

The suits are unique because they were built totally out of Hurtubise’s mind, with no blueprints, drawings or schematics. Buyer of the suits will also receive video copies of all Troy’s tests related to the suits.

Link to photo

http://cgi.ebay.ca/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3814121772&indexURL=2&photoDisplayType=2#ebayphotohosting

Keen Eddie on Bravo

Keen Eddie is a great show if you like detective stories and British humor. Eddie’s sexy, outrageous roommate and his bull terrier who watches TV with the roommate’s cat keep this show from being just another detective mystery. Highly recommended.

Upcoming episodes:

Wed, May 12 10:00 PM EDDIE LOVES BASEBALL
Wed, May 19 10:00 PM INCITING INCIDENT

When Will Gas Prices Go Down?

Source: The New York Times: The Oil Crunch, by Paul Krugman

Oil is a resource in finite supply; no major oil fields have been found since 1976, and experts suspect that there are no more to find. Some analysts argue that world production is already at or near its peak, although most say that technological progress, which allows the further exploitation of known sources like the Canadian tar sands, will allow output to rise for another decade or two. But the date of the physical peak in production isn’t the really crucial question.

The question, instead, is when the trend in oil prices will turn decisively upward. That upward turn is inevitable as a growing world economy confronts a resource in limited supply. But when will it happen? Maybe it already has.

…Lately we’ve been hearing a lot about competition from Chinese manufacturing and Indian call centers. But a different kind of competition — the scramble for oil and other resources — poses a much bigger threat to our prosperity.

So what should we be doing? Here’s a hint: We can neither drill nor conquer our way out of the problem. Whatever we do, oil prices are going up. What we have to do is adapt.

Should We Expect Iraq To Embrace Democracy?

From the book Orientalism by Edward Said, published in 1978.

What American leaders and their intellectual lackeys seem incapable of understanding is that history cannot be swept clean like a blackboard, so that “we” might inscribe our own future there and impose our own forms of life for these lesser people to follow. It is quite common to hear high officials in Washington and elsewhere speak of changing the map of the Middle East, as if ancient societies and myriad peoples can be shaken up like so many peanuts in a jar. But this has often happened with the “orient”, that semi-mythical construct which since Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in the late 18th century has been made and remade countless times. In the process the uncountable sediments of history, a dizzying variety of peoples, languages, experiences, and cultures, are swept aside or ignored, relegated to the sandheap along with the treasures ground into meaningless fragments that were taken out of Baghdad.

Edward Said was a professor of comparative literature at Columbia University and was a well known Palestinian scholar who died in 2003.

Via Joichi Ito

Are We Winning the War on Terrorism?

It appears to me that the Bush administration is faring much better at defeating John Kerry than terrorism.

Global Guerrillas: AL QAEDA’S GRAND STRATEGY: SUPERPOWER BAITING

What is al Qaeda’s grand strategy? An in depth interview with Saad al-Faqih, an expert on al Qaeda, provides some insight into al Qaeda’s Zawahiri in evolving the strategic thinking of bin Laden:

Now strategically America has started a campaign which has forced the majority of Muslims against it. But of course tactically it has scored major gains. A lot of these so-called strategic analysts mistake these tactical gains for strategic leverage. The point is that these people are not strategic analysts because they never bring the historical, ideological and social dimensions into their calculations. They only consider political and military factors….

This decision resulted in the east African embassy attacks of 1998. The result of these attacks were as follows:

Zawahiri had prophesised correctly—the Americans over-reacted by bombing Afghanistan and Sudan and consequently shifted the focus of blame away from al-Qaeda. If the Americans had not over-reacted to that attack they would have won a great moral victory. Clinton himself identified Bin Laden as the enemy and, in effect, delivered a hero to the Muslims. Before the embassy attacks only a few intellectuals and people with scholastic and practical interests in Jihad remembered Bin Laden but after the attack Bin Laden was transformed into a popular hero. The Americans thereafter persisted in turning Bin Laden into an obsession. The immediate effect of this was that thousands of Muslims travelled to Afghanistan. I was told that before the Kenya and Tanzania bombings hardly one or two people from the Arab countries would make their way to Afghanistan in any given month but after the bombings almost ten people would make their way there on a daily basis….

He goes on to explain the motivation for 9/11 and the result of the American reaction:

The next stage involved initiating a full scale polarization between Muslims and America. Therefore, even if al-Qaeda disappears there would be a huge interest in fighting the U.S. and its allies. This underpinned the planning of the 9/11 attacks. The purpose was not to kill thousands of people. Nobody saw the attacks as an assault against buildings and people, almost everyone saw it as a symbolic action. And everybody is agreed that the world changed after 9/11. The way the attacks were orchestrated had a lot to do with this—those young boys came with nothing and only relied on their will, secrecy, devotion and great perseverance. How on earth could 19 young men with box cutters wreak such humiliation on the sole Super Power of the world? The answer is linked to the “asymmetrical warfare” that I will address later. The 9/11 attacks forced America into a cosmic battle with Muslims. Of course America claims it is waging war against terrorism but actually Muslims perceive this war as an unprecedented assault on Islam. Ultimately the real issue here is the perception of Muslims and the vast majority of Muslims around the world feel besieged by America.

The result of this, according to al-Faqih will be internal turmoil in America and its eventual adoption of an isolationist policy:

Now strategically I think America has not only lost but it is likely to vanish. It has started a campaign which has forced the majority of Muslims against it. But of course tactically it has scored major gains. A lot of these so-called strategic analysts mistake these tactical gains for strategic leverage. The point is that these people are not strategic analysts because they never bring the historical, ideological and social dimensions into their calculations. They only consider political and military factors….

There are many people in America who want to tackle the matter in a much more intelligent manner but they have been silenced by this pervasive McCarthyism. There are people that are very tired with this cowboy attitude. Once the next attack occurs they are likely to say that Bush has had two years of this cosmic battle against terrorism and we ended up with an even bigger attack. Now is the time to try a different approach. Now of course the right wingers, the Zionists and the arms lobby will refuse to give ground and then a clash inside America is likely to ensue.

Switching Momentum

I experienced an interesting series of events while playing golf this week. On the third hole, I missed a three-foot birdie putt and went to the next hole angry with myself. Lots of negative thoughts were flooding my mind (how can I play good golf if I miss short birdie putts, I have to take advantage of great opportunities, etc.)

On the next hole (a par 4) I had hit two good shots and I was walking onto the green for a ten-foot birdie putt. I didn’t have a positive attitude about making a ten footer after just missing a three footer. As I walked onto the green, I looked into the deep bunker at the front of the green. Someone had walked into the trap, dug in, hit a shot, and walked out without raking the the trap. I found a rake and smoothed out the deep foot tracks left by the slacker. I felt good about fixing the trap and preventing someone from getting a terrible lie in the trap.

I made the birdie putt.

My next shot on the next hole was a hole-in-one.

Alert: Cat Trespassing

I just saw a large gray cat walking across our back yard heading east. (Since Scooter the Siamese cat is too old (in our opinion) to defend his turf, I try to help him out. He gets really angry when another cat enters and marks his territory. If Scooter senses a cat on his turf at night, he can really create a ruckus, howling to get out and vanquish the trespasser. Not good for our sleep….)

So I went out the front door, ran around the west side of the house, and ran across the back yard. The gray cat is walking straight away from me — he could not hear me running up behind him because some strong winds are blowing through the trees, making a lot of white noise.

When I closed within 10 feet of the unwelcome feline, I let out my fiercest roar. The cat accelerated from zero to thirty in a flash and bounded into the woods.

When he was about 50 yards into the woods, he stopped to see what demon had almost snatched him.

I got a good laugh out of it. 🙂 And maybe Scooter’s territory will be off limits to that cat for a while.

I had a hole-in-one yesterday

I had a hole-in-one yesterday on the fifth hole at Cobblestone Golf Club. I hit a high pitching wedge on the 120 yard hole that disappeared behind the sand trap guarding the left side of the green. The hole was not visible from the tee, so we didn’t know it was in until we walked onto the green. Often I’ve expected a ball to be near the hole on a blind hole and it is over the green. In this case, I saw the ball mark about a foot in front on the hole and I knew it was in.

I was playing with Art Meyer (of Art’s Wallow fame), Bill Locke, and Dan Summerlin. The adrenalin rush hurt my game — I double-bogeyed the next two holes! Prior to the hole-in-one, I was in the zone with my pitching wedge. On the third hole, a par three that was also about 120 yards long, I hit it three feet behind the hole — and missed the putt! On the fourth hole, a short par 4 with a very intimidating, small peninsula green that drops straight down into Lake Ackworth, I hit the pitching wedge from 115 yards to about ten feet and made the putt. Then the hole-in-one. My pitching wedge was hot!

I didn’t take advantage of the three under on two holes with my scoring. I shot 78 for the day, missing a number of short putts and losing three drives. But Cobblestone is a tricky course and it was the first time I had every played it.

It was my third hole-in-one. I had my first at age 15 at hole 17 at Chatmoss CC, witnessed by Chip Hairston and Ben Lewis. My second was in 1994 at Settindown Creek Golf Club, hole seven, witnessed by Ann.

Cobblestone is a good test of golf and very scenic — I recommend it highly.