Mohawks become first tribe to take down a federal dam


Click to enlargeTony David

❝ A century after the first commercial dam was built on the St. Regis River, blocking the spawning runs of salmon and sturgeon, the stream once central to the traditional culture of New York’s Mohawk Tribe is flowing freely once again.

The removal of the 11-foot-high Hogansburg Dam this fall is the latest in the tribe’s decades-long struggle to restore territory defiled by industrial pollution, beginning in the 1980s with PCBs and heavy metals from nearby General Motors, Alcoa and Reynolds Metal plants, a cleanup under federal oversight that’s nearly complete.

❝ The St. Regis River project is the first removal of an operating hydroelectric dam in New York state and the nation’s first decommissioning of a federally licensed dam by a Native American tribe, federal officials say. Paired with the recent success of North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux in rerouting a pipeline they feared could threaten their water supply, the dam’s removal underscores longstanding concern over the health of tribal lands.

“We look at this not only as reclaiming the resources and our land, but also taking back this scar on our landscape that’s a constant reminder of those days of exploitation,” said Tony David, water resources manager for the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, which the Mohawks call Akwesasne.

❝ The former industrial site will become a focal point in the Mohawks’ cultural restoration program, funded by a $19 million settlement in 2013 with GM, Alcoa and Reynolds for pollution of tribal fishing and hunting grounds along the St. Lawrence River. The program partners young apprentices with tribal elders to preserve the Mohawk language and pass on traditional practices such as hunting, fishing, trapping, basket-making, horticulture and medicine.

Read this article with joy, take pride in the Mohawk nation.

The Lost Tapes from Pearl Harbor

pearl-harbor-tribute

❝ One style of history documentary — vintage clips plus reminiscences plus talking heads — is so common that it’s easy to forget that there are other options. “The Lost Tapes,” a series the Smithsonian Channel introduces on Sunday night with an episode on Pearl Harbor, effectively employs an alternative that really ought to get more use, especially for history that falls within the era of film and sound recording.

The program consists of just clips and still images with an occasional caption. No academics in office-chair interviews interpret things for you. No survivors grow weepy while dredging up their decades-old memories. No narration intrudes. The idea is to come closer to putting you in the historical moment, to give you a sense of what people experienced and felt at the time.

RTFA. Know what to expect, what to look for, when you watch this – as I plan to do. Never forget.

USA!, USA!, becoming more diverse


Click through to the article

Farmland outside a Midwestern city turns into a bedroom enclave of commuting urban professionals. A handful of non-white people move to Dubuque, Iowa. Already diverse cities become increasingly mixed with immigrants from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

These are just some of the ways diversity is increasing in U.S. communities.

To quantify how America is changing, we used the diversity index, which measures the chance that two people chosen at random will not be the same race and ethnicity. A high score means a county has people of many races and ethnicities, while a low score means the community is made up of a single dominant group.

Click through to the article and maps. Plural. While there is an all-inclusive graphic that shunts you through a quasi-3D map, individual maps focus on each of the four trends examined.

Get used to it, folks. Trump voters probably won’t. I imagine the intellectually-curious folks who pass through here won’t have any trouble with change.

Freedom from fear

img_0377
Click to enlarge

The last of FDR’s Four Freedoms. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s state of the union address to Congress in January, 1941 became known as the Four Freedoms Speech. You might want to read back through it.

You will understand how far we have backslid towards the foolishness of corporate conservatives who destroyed our world’s economy in the 1930’s. It will look familiar to folks who understand the progressive path Bernie Sanders proposes.

Infrastructure? China trumps Trump!


Click to enlargeShutterstock

❝ President-elect Donald Trump has proposed spending up to $1 trillion over a decade to make America’s infrastructure “second to none.”

Except for China that is.

❝ The world’s second-largest economy has already topped that this year alone, with $1.4 trillion splurged on roads, railways, bridges, telecom networks and other infrastructure in the ten months through October.

❝ Trump’s plan for an “America’s Infrastructure First” policy mirrors China’s build-it-and-they-will-come model, except on a much smaller scale. China has spent about $11 trillion on infrastructure in the last decade — more than 10 times what Trump is proposing…

That building binge has transformed China’s continent-sized economy. Its 20,000 kilometers of high-speed railways account for more than 60 percent of the world’s total, and it’s not done yet, with plans to boost that distance to 30,000 kilometers by 2020. The U.S.? Don’t ask.

To be sure, as a developing nation, China still has much potential for more building compared with an advanced economy such as the U.S…

Not if we’re talking infrastructure. We haven’t been serious about interstate highways since the Eisenhower Administration. That was 60 years ago. The last major new U.S. airport was completed in 1995.

❝ Trump’s plan “does offer the potential of supporting job creation in the short run, more importantly supporting and expanding the economy’s capacity in the medium run,” said Larry Summers, former Treasury secretary…economic adviser to President Barack Obama…

But when it comes to infrastructure, “America First” is actually a distant second.

Trump’s Congressional troops, establishment, tea party or otherwise, probably aren’t likely to temper their contempt for folks who’ve paid up for Social Security and Medicare. They will ignore the salient fact that these so-called entitlements are insurance programs that taxpayers have already paid for. I have no doubt the sleaze patrol from Paul Ryan to Stephen Bannon will ignore any attempt to bring the tax base for corporate barons back to something approaching responsible. They will try to tax the working class to pay for safer transport of profit-making goods and services.