CVIndependent

Sun03262017

Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Community Voices

08 Mar 2017
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The president and his supporters say they want to solve illegal immigration by building an immense wall along our southern border, turning local police into immigration agents, and applying “severe vetting” to immigrants from certain countries—all of which are predominantly Muslim. Opponents say these proposals suffer from over-simplification and racism. But there’s an even bigger problem: These “fixes” fail to understand that we can’t address immigration if we continue to deny the science of climate change, because increasingly, climate change is driving global human migration. Let’s first acknowledge that our border with Mexico is a place of hardship, violence and injustice. Let’s also recognize the wrenching reality that many of those pressed against our border are children. In fiscal year 2016, nearly 60,000 unaccompanied children were apprehended at our southern border. Even as the president and his supporters lump them together with “murderers and rapists,” the U.S. Border Patrol reports…
11 Jan 2017
Many Californians woke up the night after the presidential election thinking they were living in a different country. A few felt so alienated that they publicly raised the possibility of seceding from the United States. There is no constitutional way, however, to do this. But there is a less radical step that would amount to a limited secession and would require only an act of Congress. Forty-five percent of the land in California is administered by the federal government—including 20 percent of the state in national forests and 15 percent under the Bureau of Land Management. Rather than outright secession, California could try to assert full state sovereignty over all this land. Until Nov. 8, California wouldn’t have cared about this, but with the prospect of a Donald Trump administration soon managing almost half the land in the state, Californians may want to rethink their traditional stance. Otherwise, they are…
16 Nov 2016
On the day after Election Day, the biggest newspaper in the oil and gas patch in northwestern New Mexico ran a story headlined: “Trump win has energy industry leaders hopeful.” Most of the local industry folks quoted by the Farmington Daily Times said that President-elect Donald Trump would relax regulations on drilling on public land. Meanwhile, over on Facebook, energy workers were ecstatic, convinced that a President Trump would put them back to work almost immediately. They should know better. The San Juan Basin’s energy-reliant communities have been hit especially hard in recent years. The first blow came in 2008, after horizontal drilling and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing opened up huge shale formations in the East. Shortly thereafter, oil prices skyrocketed to as high as $150 per barrel, prompting drill rigs to pop up again all over North Dakota’s Bakken formation and, a little later, in the San Juan Basin’s Gallup…
18 Oct 2016
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The “breaking news” TV flash disrupted a peaceful Saturday afternoon at my home in Palm Springs. Three cops had been shot while responding to a domestic disturbance just a couple of miles away. I started feeling uneasy and tense—like I used to feel in my hometown of Sarajevo. I turned the TV off. Within minutes, my editor called and left me a message, asking me if I was available to cover the shootings. I didn’t respond. I’ve done my share of violent breaking-news stories all around the globe. No more. Later, my editor texted me, saying that two of the three officers—Jose “Gil” Vega, 63, and Lesley Zerebny, 27—had died. I’ve seen many senseless killings, as a war reporter in Romania and what was once Yugoslavia. When I lived and worked in Rio de Janeiro, every morning would start with the gruesome front-page murder-scene photos of butchered bodies. Rio is…
30 Sep 2016
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As we stagger through this year’s presidential campaign, it might help to look back at the election of 1856, when, for the first time, the West yielded a presidential candidate. His name was John Charles Frémont, and he was a big name in his day. He still is: From Colorado to California, we have rivers and mountains named after Fremont, as well as towns, counties, parks and streets. Besides being famous, he was daring—and not unlike today’s presidential candidates, deeply flawed. Frémont led four expeditions to the West in the 1840s. He had married well, partnering with Jessie Benton, the daughter of Missouri Sen. Thomas Hart Benton, who ballyhooed westward expansion. Boosted by his father-in-law’s influence, Frémont in 1842 launched his first expedition with mountain-man Kit Carson as a guide. It was a partnership based on ambition: Carson needed Frémont to make him famous, a favor he returned by keeping…
16 Sep 2016
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For most of us, birthdays are happy occasions, when friends and family pay fond attention, lavishing us with gifts to prove that we are loved and valued. For one day, our foibles are accepted with a smile—or at least diplomatically ignored. The National Park Service’s 100th birthday this August has been less joyful. In fact, anyone paying attention to the news might think that the proud agency, which oversees 412 units across more than 80 million acres, has had its centennial celebration ruined by a series of uncomfortable revelations. In January, the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General released a report detailing two decades of sexual harassment by boatmen in the Grand Canyon’s river district and the failure of senior officials to adequately respond. In March, the agency abolished the river district and announced that it would increase sexual-harassment training and conduct an agency-wide survey to ascertain how widespread the…
09 Sep 2016
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Soldiers Organized Services, known to locals as SOS, has provided free airport transportation for more than 100,000 of America’s heroes since 2007—saving active-duty military personnel, as well as their loved ones, in excess of $15 million. The mission is funded through the generous donations of corporations, philanthropic organizations and patriotic individuals from all over the Coachella Valley. Explosive growth has created new challenges for this Palm Desert nonprofit—and its new Veterans Communications Center is playing a key role in the expansion. SOS plans to offer free transportation for area veterans to the Veterans Affairs Hospital at Loma Linda, and help with that mission came from Desert Adventures, operators of the popular Red Jeep Tours, which was about to retire a 1994 Dodge Ram minivan. It had some good years left, so with the help of local businesses and donors, it has been restored and donated to SOS. “The van needed…
29 Jul 2016
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The more things change, the more those changes echo on into the future. Today, we need to listen more carefully than ever to a voice from the mid-20th century—that of writer and Western historian Bernard DeVoto. At the recent Republican National Convention, the party faithful approved a platform that directs Congress to give “certain” public lands to the states. It’s an old strategy, trotted out like a broken-down show horse at a county fair. In the mid-1940s, Western policymakers, mainly Republicans, sought to eliminate the federal Bureau of Land Management, remove grazing areas from Forest Service control, and put public land on the path to state control and private ownership. One privatization bill passed the House in 1946, and even enjoyed the support of Interior Secretary Julius Krug, a Democrat. Sounding the alarm against these terrible proposals came DeVoto’s prescient voice from his “The Easy Chair” column in Harper’s magazine.…
22 Jun 2016
Gun safety is, and has always been, an LGBT-rights issue. Granted, some of the most prominent cases of anti-LGBT hate crimes have not involved guns; the deaths of Matthew Shepard and Sakia Gunn were not due to firearms. Even so, the LGBT community is plagued by gun violence. On May 13, 1988, Rebecca Wight and Claudia Brenner were shot while hiking the Appalachian Trail, because their murderer was enraged by their lesbianism. Wight died from her wounds. On Oct. 15, 1999, Sissy “Charles” Boden was shot dead in Savannah, Ga., for being gay. On July 23, 2003, Nireah Johnson and Brandie Coleman were shot to death in Indianapolis after their assailant learned Nireah was transgender. On Feb. 12, 2008, 15-year-old Lawrence “Larry” King was shot twice by a classmate in Oxnard because of his sexual orientation. He later died. Gun safety has always been an issue with the LGBT community.…
08 Jun 2016
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He was one of nature’s biggest gifts, and the country owes him thanks. —Charles M. Russell, 1925 The bald eagle has been the national symbol since 1782, but the Western artist Charlie Russell was right: The buffalo was far more important to the story of the American West. Congress agrees on very little these days, but this May, it successfully passed a bill that was quickly signed by President Obama. The National Bison Legacy Act designates the American bison, most often called the buffalo, as our first national mammal. What’s more, the bill enjoyed the support of a wide array of ranchers, environmentalists, zoos, outdoorsmen and Native Americans. As the Wildlife Conservation Society put it, the animal “is an icon that represents the highest ideals of America.” The story of the buffalo, once roaming in immense herds, also touches on some of the lowest points in American history. As settlers…

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