In a tragic role reversal above the Serengeti, a helicopter pilot who was tracking the activities of hunters in a wildlife reserve was shot down by those same poachers.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott's unofficial official policy of climate denial has taken a turn for the bizarre: A high-level employee in the state Department of Environmental Protection now says he was suspended and told to get a medical evaluation for refusing to purge mentions of climate change from a state record.
Health officials in Florida today issued new warnings about high levels of a flesh-eating bacterium in the ocean and other recreational waters in the state. The state says that bacterium, Vibrio vulnificus, causes ulceration and rapid skin decay and is fatal in about 50 percent of people who get it in their bloodstreams.
They call it "rolling coal" or "hybrid repellent." It is what it sounds like: "pollution porn for dudes with pickup trucks," a setup that costs hundreds or thousands of bucks and gives liberal-hatin' drivers a way to protest Obama by puking clouds of exhaust smoke on little lefties in their lefty cars.
Here's some terrible news to mark the beginning of permanent fire season in California: It's going to stay like this, hot and dry, until May. The Climate Prediction Center says winter will come and go without the usual winter storms that provide the snowpack that provides all the water people use. Fire conditions will be awful until summer, when they will continue being awful until next winter, if winter ever shows up again.
Last week, a chemical company poisoned a major West Virginia water supply so thoroughly that FEMA has been dispatched to clean things up.
We know what's wrong with Veteran's Day. We know this country is crawling with jobless, homeless veterans of America's constant occupations and invasions. We know there aren't enough jobs for these people already burdened with so much, and no labor market demand for the "skill set" of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and existential dread. And yet they went out there and committed whatever insanity they were commanded to commit, in the name of America, even if it never mattered to 99% of Americans one way or the other. Instead of the usual Veteran's Day garbage of saying "uhh ... sorry" to those who suffered for empire, how about giving the veterans the only thing that can hold them together: a mission.
If the grim news about our slow-cooking world has got you down, you might be an environmentalist. Recycling bins, hiking boots, and that reusable grocery bag you got at the farmer's market are other signs that you may have ecological beliefs and concerns. To the industrial propagandists, even your awareness of the hotter temperatures and horrific storms is proof that your green behavior is actually a religion. So what would happen if 10 million or 50 million religious environmentalists suddenly appeared on the national scene?
People are strangers out here on the oil patch, and public conversation is terse and muted. You never know when an oil company manager or safety inspector or corporate spy is sniffing around. I learned after the first day in Williston, N.D., that my usual work uniform of an old sports coat and tie made me suspect. Leaving the tie at the motel helped, but not much.
Oil wells and sheet-metal buildings are hideous things, but America the Beautiful resumes as soon as you get past the last grim RV park and last signs of our shoddy civilization. The easiest way to refresh the soul is to look on the map for a big chunk of green: a national park or preserve or forest, or in the case of the Bakken, the Little Missouri National Grassland.
Boomtowns don't have to be ugly. San Francisco was built during the Gold Rush, as was Sacramento and dozens of still pretty towns in the Sierra Nevada. Virginia City, home to the Comstock Lode, quickly built up neighborhoods of ornate mansions and a main street that offered everything from Oscar Wilde lectures in the opera house to exotic prostitutes from Australia and China. But since the 1960s, when America lost its ability to see or create beauty, our endless boom and bust cycle produces nothing but garbage: garbage housing, garbage retail, garbage jobs and garbage products.