In Immigration Battle, Advocates for Overhaul Single Out Republicans—We need to get rid of this loser…J.R.
PUEBLO, Colo. — Representative Scott Tipton, Republican of Colorado, entered his town hall meeting and quickly began greeting the assembled crowd, including those who did not necessarily share his political views.
He shook the hands of a group of Hispanic teenagers sitting in the front row, welcoming them like old friends. The teenagers, who had been brought to the country illegally by their parents as young children, had come the day before to lobby Mr. Tipton to support a broad immigration overhaul.
“You were there yesterday!” he said to one of the teenagers, who were dressed in red and had already attended several other events in his district. “Well, thanks for taking the time. Did you have a good drive?” He turned to another member of the group. “I have not got you to smile once,” he said, offering a smile of his own, before moving to the front of the room to start his meeting.
Mr. Tipton has come to know the immigration advocates in his district — and their issue — well. As House Republicans have all but ruled out the possibility of passing any sweeping legislation before the end of the year, immigration advocates are operating with an increased sense of urgency. Their goal is to pressure lawmakers like Mr. Tipton to support an overhaul, creating a call for action from Republican House members that they hope Speaker John A. Boehner and his leadership team will find impossible to ignore.
But persuading Mr. Tipton, a two-term lawmaker who rode into office on the Tea Partywave in 2010, to support any broad immigration legislation will be a tough sell.
Very few of us need to be reminded about what happened 50 years ago today in Dallas.
And with all the remembrances of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in the news media this week, there’s no need for us to post yet another.
Let’s go in a different direction. We’re embedding video of his Jan. 20, 1961, inaugural address. We’ll also attach a transcript (per the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum) below.
As NPR has reported before, the president’s “ask not” address still inspires many people. We thought watching and reading it again might be a proper way of noting this day.
From WBUR in Boston:
Since the 1980s, historians have concentrated on leaders’ failings, as well as their successes.
WASHINGTON — The President John F. Kennedy students learn about today is not their grandparents’ J.F.K.
The first — and for many the last — in-depth lesson that American students learn about the 35th president comes from high school textbooks. And on the eve of the anniversary of his assassination 50 years ago, a review of more than two dozen written since then shows that the portrayal of him has fallen sharply over the years.
In general, the picture has evolved from a charismatic young president who inspired youths around the world to a deeply flawed one whose oratory outstripped his accomplishments. Averting war in the Cuban missile crisis got less attention and respect. Legislative setbacks and a deepening commitment in Vietnam got more. The Kennedy-era glamour seemed more image than reality.
For example, a 1975 high school text by Clarence Ver Steeg and Richard Hofstadter said that in his handling of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, “Kennedy’s true nature as a statesman became fully apparent.” In “A People and a Nation,” they said his 1963 limited nuclear test ban treaty “was the greatest single step toward peace since the beginning of the Cold War.”
On civil rights, they said, his administration “did not receive congressional cooperation.” Even so, they wrote, inaccurately, “buses, hotels, motels and restaurants were largely desegregated” in his presidency. Most of those changes came when the Civil Rights Act was signed by his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, in 1964.
(CNN) – Leaders in Utah say they found a way to get around the government shutdown.
Utah will reopen its five national parks by Saturday, as well as three other nationally run locations.
Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert made the announcement Thursday, saying a deal had been reached with the U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
“Utah agrees to pay the National Park Service (NPS) up to $1.67 million— $166,572 per day—to re-open eight national sites in Utah for up to 10 days. If the federal government shutdown ends before then, the State will receive a refund of unused monies” an official press statement explained.
The deal would reopen Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion national parks. The other three locations that will be opened are Natural Bridges and Cedar Breaks national monuments, as well as Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
From left, Denise McNair, 11; Carole Robertson, 14; Addie Mae Collins, 14; and Cynthia Wesley, 14, were killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, in Birmingham, Ala., on Sept. 15, 1963.
On Tuesday, Congress will bestow its highest civilian honor — posthumously — on the young victims of a deadly Alabama church bombing from the civil rights era.
The Congressional Gold Medals for Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley come 50 years after the black girls were killed by a Ku Klux Klan bomb.
Just as the federal recognition is long in coming, so was justice.
The plot to bomb the 16th Street Baptist Church can be traced to a once-remote spot along Alabama’s scenic Cahaba River. Suburban traffic now rumbles above a deserted, gravelly spot under the Cahaba River Bridge.
“But in the day it was apparently a hot spot for some of the more violent members of the Klan to sit down here and talk and do their dirty work,” says former U.S. attorney Doug Jones.
One man was convicted in the bombing in 1977, but more than two decades would pass before any other suspects were tried for murder.
Jones was the federal prosecutor who tried and convicted Klansmen Thomas Blanton and Bobby Frank Cherry in 2001 and 2002, for the murder of the four girls killed in one of the most notorious racially motivated crimes in U.S. history.
Blanton and Cherry were part of a small group of disgruntled white supremacists who didn’t think the Klan was doing enough to stop the rising tide of the civil rights movement in 1963.
“They just were the self-proclaimed Cahaba River Bridge Boys,” Jones says. “It was almost like they were trying to be the outlaws of the Old West.”
Jones says they knew the FBI had infiltrated their Klan klavern, which met at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge.
“They would gather up to plan the real violence,” he says. “So they brought the guys down here that they could trust.”
Jones says the Cahaba River Bridge Boys were busy in the week leading up to Sept. 15, 1963. On that morning, Youth Sunday, dynamite exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church, killing the four young girls. The church was a target because of its role in the civil rights movement.
But in 1963, no one was arrested for the crime. The first prosecution would come more than a decade later.
In a 1968 Associated Press photo from Vietnam by Art Greenspon, a soldier guides an unseen medevac helicopter to a jungle clearing where wounded comrades wait. More Photos »
Half a century after the nation’s fateful early missteps into the quagmire, what are Americans likely to remember about the Vietnam War?
A Buddhist monk, doused with gasoline, squatting stoically in the street as roaring flames consume his body.
An enemy prisoner grimacing as a bullet fired from a pistol at the end of an outstretched arm enters his brain.
A 9-year-old girl running naked down the road, screaming as her skin burns from napalm.
Perhaps even more viscerally even than on television, America’s most wrenching war in our time hit home in photographs, including these three searing prize-winning images from The Associated Press newsmen Malcolm W. Browne, Eddie Adams and Nick Ut. They are the subject of retrospectives now, in a new book and accompanying exhibitions.
No single news source did more to document the bitter and costly struggle against North Vietnamese Communist regulars and Vietcong insurgents, and to turn the home front against the war, than The A.P.
From 1950 to 1975, this nonprofit news cooperative, founded during the Mexican War in 1846, fielded Saigon’s largest, most battle-hardened cadre of war correspondents and photographers, including several women. Four died.
“What we did, we told the accurate story,” said Peter Arnett, one of the last surviving members of the 1960s bureau, who was once berated by the United States Pacific commander, Adm. Harry D. Felt: “Get on the team.”
Now, amid a flurry of anniversary commemorations of that tumultuous era and a surge of interest in war photography, The A.P. has, for the first time, culled its estimated 25,000 Vietnam photographs and reprinted some 250 in a book, “Vietnam: The Real War,” with an introduction by Pete Hamill, to be published by Abrams on Oct. 1.
Chuck Zoeller, the agency’s manager of special projects, said the dozens of rarely seen photographs in this collection include color plates of United States prisoners of war in a Hanoi prison in 1972 and historical images from the French colonial period. There is a photo of President John F. Kennedy in Florida, reviewing a commando unit back from action as early as 1962. And there are troubling scenes: Vietcong prisoners being kicked and subjected to water torture by South Vietnamese troops. A Vietnamese family of four, dead on a blanket, killed in a stampede as panicked refugees fled the advancing North Vietnamese in 1975.
On the book’s cover is a grim yet elegaic photo by Art Greenspon showing wounded American paratroopers in a jungle clearing near Hue in April 1968, as one soldier, arms raised as if in prayer, guides to the ground an unseen helicopter that is to be their salvation.
New York University’s campus in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, opened in 2010.
CLASSES are beginning at New York University’s new “portal” campus in Shanghai — the latest attempt by an American university to export its teaching and prestige abroad.
In April 2011, at a conference in Washington on “people-to-people exchange” between the United States and China, Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the secretary of state, praised N.Y.U.’s president, John Sexton, for his “vision to expand his university internationally while maintaining its reputation for excellence and academic freedom.”
But his meaning of “freedom” seems elastic. “I have no trouble distinguishing between rights of academic freedom and rights of political expression,” he told Bloomberg News later that year. “These are two different things.” This was a startling statement, coming from a scholar of constitutional law. And along with the controversy over a stand-alone campus that N.Y.U. opened in Abu Dhabi in 2010, it contributed to Mr. Sexton’s rising unpopularity back home: the arts and science faculty, N.Y.U.’s largest, voted “no confidence” in him in March. Both overseas campuses were financed primarily with foreign subsidies.
Crowds gathering at the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963.
It was late in the day and hot, and after a long march and an afternoon of speeches about federal legislation, unemployment and racial and social justice, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. finally stepped to the lectern, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, to address the crowd of 250,000 gathered on the National Mall.
He began slowly, with magisterial gravity, talking about what it was to be black in America in 1963 and the “shameful condition” of race relations a hundred years after theEmancipation Proclamation. Unlike many of the day’s previous speakers, he did not talk about particular bills before Congress or the marchers’ demands. Instead, he situated the civil rights movement within the broader landscape of history — time past, present and future — and within the timeless vistas of Scripture.
Dr. King was about halfway through his prepared speech when Mahalia Jackson — who earlier that day had delivered a stirring rendition of the spiritual “I Been ’Buked and I Been Scorned” — shouted out to him from the speakers’ stand: “Tell ’em about the ‘Dream,’ Martin, tell ’em about the ‘Dream’!” She was referring to a riff he had delivered on earlier occasions, and Dr. King pushed the text of his remarks to the side and began an extraordinary improvisation on the dream theme that would become one of the most recognizable refrains in the world.
With his improvised riff, Dr. King took a leap into history, jumping from prose to poetry, from the podium to the pulpit. His voice arced into an emotional crescendo as he turned from a sobering assessment of current social injustices to a radiant vision of hope — of what America could be. “I have a dream,” he declared, “my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!”
For King’s Adviser, Fulfilling The Dream ‘Cannot Wait’
Aug. 28, 1963, was a tense day for Clarence B. Jones. As the longtime attorney and adviser for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Jones had a long list of worries as people started to fill the streets around the monuments on the National Mall. Were the right permits filed? Would the speakers veer off script? Would enough people show up?
“I had this feeling that we were going to throw a big party and nobody comes,” Jones recalls.
But people did come — at least 250,000 of them. Still, Jones also worried that the crowd might also include agitators, “some of what I called ‘agent provocateurs’ — white as well as black,” Jones says. “I didn’t know whether some of the black nationalists who were opposed to Dr. King’s non-violence, or whether some of the people from the right wing, the Klan … would provoke something.”
And then there was the delicate and thorny issue of wrangling all those celebrities, Jones says, like Marlon Brando, Shelley Winters, Sidney Poitier, Joanne Woodward, Paul Newman, Joan Baez, Odetta and Bob Dylan, to name just a few.
In the end, things went smoothly, from the singers and the speakers to the big crowds and blue skies. After sleepless nights and fretful days, Jones was able to take his place on the stage at the Lincoln Memorial and take it all in.
Among his most vivid memories is singer Mahalia Jackson at the microphone, Jones says. “How could you not be moved by this woman’s voice? You would have to be unfortunately afflicted with some type of muscular disease that would prevent your muscles reacting to what your ear brought to your body.”
Of all the entertainers that day, Mahalia Jackson was the singer who had a special hold on King. When King was feeling down, he would speak with Jackson on the phone.
“I guess you would put it now as ‘telephone gospel therapy,’ ” Jones says. “And he would speak to Mahalia Jackson and he would say, ‘Mahalia, please sing to me. I’m having a rough day today.’
“And she would sing one or more of his favorite songs, and … he would close his eyes listening to her,” Jones continues. “In some cases, tears would come down his face and then he would say, ‘Mahalia, you are giving me the Lord’s voice this morning.’ “
King had enormous respect for Jackson, Jones says. And because of that, the reverend listened to her when she offered him unsolicited advice while King stood at the podium on the day of the march.
While he was reading from the prepared text, Jones says, Jackson shouted at King. “This is after she had performed, of course, she’s sitting down, and she just shouted at him … ‘Tell ‘em about the dream, Martin! Tell ‘em about the dream!’ “
Hi Jerry. Nice to see the Concours’ De Elegance photos from Pebble Beach long ago. I went to this event and the accompanying road races in 1954 – 56 while I was in the sports car stage (anyone could drive in a straight line I said to my drag racing buddies)….brought back some memories for sure.
Sure, post that old Pebble Beach Road Race, 17 Mile Drive photo – Turn 4 that is, with a 1954 MG TF leading the pack.
Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, says Edward Snowden, the man who leaked top secret documents about an NSA surveillance program, showed “the kind of courage that we expect of people on the battlefield.”
Ellsberg, who became one of the first to be prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act, told CNN that if he had been in Snowden’s position, he would have broken the law in an act of civil disobedience.
“I’m very impressed by what I’ve heard in the last couple of hours including Snowden’s own video here,” Ellsberg told the network Sunday night. “I think he’s done an enormous service — incalculable service. It can’t be overestimated to this democracy. It gives us a chance, I think, from drawing back from the total surveillance state that we could say we’re in process of becoming, I’m afraid we have become. That’s what he’s revealed.”
Ellsberg said one thing that is clear is that Snowden broke the law. It’s a position, Ellsberg knows well. As we wrote back in 2011, Ellsberg said when he saw the leaked Pentagon Papers appear in newspapers, he thought he would spend the rest of his life in prison. The documents revealed government deception as they were building their case to go to war with Vietnam.
Ellsberg went to trial but the charges against him were dismissed when the judge found evidence the Nixon White House “had agents break into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist in a search for ways to discredit him.”
Ellsberg said that from what he’s heard about Snowden, the 29-year-old is willing — like he was — to give up his life for the good of the country.
But Ellsberg wonders if it could really be a crime for someone to expose a practice he says violates the constitution.
A tyrannosaur claw, part of the well preserved skeletons found by commercial prospectors on a private ranch in Montana in 2006.
Many paleontologists agree that two fossilized dinosaur skeletons found in the Hell Creek formation in Montana might be a major discovery.
The fossils apparently show two dinosaurs locked together in mortal combat in a Cretaceous-era grave, an example of fighting that could provide a rare window into dinosaur behavior.
Perhaps more important, each of the skeletons may be a new kind of dinosaur — a Nanotyrannus lancensis, a type of pygmy T. rex, and a Chasmosaurine ceratopsian, a close relation of the Triceratops.
But scientists may never know for sure. Going against the hopes of many paleontologists, these two nearly complete skeletons, found by commercial prospectors on a private ranch, are not going directly to a museum for further study. Instead, billed as the “Montana dueling dinosaurs,” they will be auctioned in November by Bonhams in New York, for a projected price of $7 million to $9 million, which would be one of the highest prices ever paid for dinosaur fossils.
“This lines their pockets but hurts science,” Thomas Carr, the senior scientific adviser at the Dinosaur Discovery Museum and director of the Carthage Institute of Paleontology in Wisconsin, said of the sellers, who include the husband-and-wife owners of the ranch and the prospectors, one of whom calls himself the Dino Cowboy.
A museum could still buy the fossils; many were offered them, at an even higher price, in the long, winding road to auction. Or a private buyer could make them available to scientists. It’s the lack of a guarantee that rankles paleontologists. Unlike many countries that carefully control dinosaur fossils found on public and private lands, the United States restricts the collecting of fossils only on public lands. Fossils found on private land, as in this case, belong to the landowner.
Some experts say that high prices and loose restrictions encourage trespassing by less-than-scrupulous fossil hunters, who poach on federal lands and illicitly smuggle from other fossil-rich countries, like Mongolia. Huge annual fossil fairs have sprung up, like the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, where prize specimens are on display from countries like Mongolia, China and Russia at equally eye-catching prices.
“It is just stunning,” said Hans-Dieter Sues, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington. “You see entire dinosaur skeletons out of China, and dinosaur eggs. These things are for sale.”
Representatives from 10 rural Colorado counties met this week to draw up plans for a 51st state they call “North Colorado,” where they dream gun and oil laws will be more lax, Denver television station KCNC reported.
The secessionist movement grew out of its organizers’ frustration with state lawmakers passing restrictions on guns and the oil and gas industry, as well as raising renewable energy standards for rural co-ops, according to KCNC.
The counties would need the approval of voters, the Colorado General Assembly and U.S. Congress to secede and form “North Colorado,” according to the television station. Should the secession plan fail, county commissioners could propose a ballot initiative that would alter the state Senate so that each of Colorado’s 64 counties would have its own senator to represent its interests.
“We need to figure out (a) way to re-enfranchise the people who feel politically disenfranchised now and ignored,” Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway told KCNC.
The Great Sand Dunes are one of the country’s newest national parks. They’re also a popular destination in Colorado for summer travelers. But the story of the park’s creation doesn’t start with sand. It starts with WATER. And a battle that, 25 years ago, brought ranchers and hippies together. Frederick Reimers writes about the unusual story in a recent issue of Nature Conservancy Magazine. He speaks with Ryan Warner.
The Story Behind Great Sand Dunes National Park
The following was previously published at Think Progress.
Please also check out a list of links to Randy’s essays for HCN, located below the post.
I’ll keep movin’ through the dark with you in my heart my blood brother.
I think we will solve climate change, but to do it we will need each other, and we will need leadership and also companionship. Increasingly, over the years, the environmental community has become fractured on the issue of climate—in some cases struggling over best approaches, expressing our frustration and criticism. This is healthy, but it has to be understood in the context of a common struggle. We are in this together.
That is why I find it so deeply saddening to lose leaders and fellow fighters in this battle. I saw Stephen Schneider as nothing less than a fearsome warrior, like a Viking. A wonderful ally.
Now we have lost another brother in arms—energy analyst, innovator, deep thinker, and part time warrior Randy Udall.
I met Randy more than 20 years ago, when he was younger than I am now, and he chose me to join him on grueling and epic skis and hikes in the Sierras, the Wind Rivers, and the Colorado Rockies. He was one of the strongest humans on earth, both physically and mentally. As an Outward Bound instructor on winter courses, he was known to ski into camp in the dark, eat a stick of butter, dig a hole in the snow, and go to sleep. He once skied the entire 200-plus mile John Muir Trail in a week with his brother Mark. To hike with him was to be completely brutalized beyond exhaustion, into a new place. It required the kind of effort Randy and the rest of us are now putting into the climate struggle.
Udall was a pioneer and an innovator. Among many of his important accomplishments was the development of the first utility green power pricing program in Colorado, a mechanism for utilities to bring clean power online. He was a brilliant and incisive writer, a master of metaphor who would spend days mulling a turn of phrase. As editor of Rocky Mountain Institute’s newsletter, he brought wit and life to energy writing.
In his work at the Community Office for Resource Efficiency he developed likely the country’s first carbon tax, imposing a fee on energy intensive development. Like much of Randy’s work, the Renewable Energy Mitigation Program was oddly bipartisan. Many homeowners happily paid the fee, expressing their own desire to help out, to not do harm, to be part of the solution. In the same way, Randy understood that cheap coal and petroleum brought Americans the prosperity we enjoy today, and our solutions must not ignore that debt, and must not sweep the miners and the geologists and the utilities under the carpet. For this, Randy was beloved by coal miners and gas explorers, conservative utility CEOs and environmentalists alike.
His favorite way of speaking about hard challenges was to say: “It seems to make sense to….” What a wonderful turn of phrase. Together, Randy and I wrote one of the early critiques of LEED, a paper that we hoped would help reform the program. Randy and I can both be too critical and judgmental, but Randy wrote that paper, as he did all his work, out of love and hope. To build, not to destroy.
He was non-self promotional to a fault, and to me he often urged humility—what Ben Franklin called the hardest virtue. Despite having a famous name, a brother and a cousin who are senators, an uncle who ran Interior and a congressman father who doubled the size of the national park system, public spotlight and power were not Randy’s gig. When I told him he ought to radically expand his work at CORE, he said: “I have no interest at all in building an empire.”
Randy was above all a realist. “Like it or not,” he said of fracking, although “many of my friends seem to hate it, this technology has become one of the underpinnings of our civilization, as central to the way we live as the cell phone or computer.” That realism sometimes led to dark humor. Randy was known for his shit-eating grin, and it was never clear if you were in on the joke.
For the last decade, Randy had been relentlessly hammering on a key climate problem, and a key solution—methane leaking from coal mines. Destroy methane en-masse, and we can buy ourselves some time to address CO2. After endless denials and failures, he and partner Tom Vessels finally found a willing partner in Jim Cooper, the mine president at the Elk Creek Mine in Somerset. The company I work for, Aspen Skiing Company, was able to finance the project to convert waste methane to electricity, in partnership with another Randy ally, the utility Holy Cross Energy. With 3MW of installed capacity, we have a prototype of a climate solution that crosses partisan boundaries and represents the bleeding edge of cooperation in a divided America.
Who owns the Elk Creek mine? Bill Koch, who recognizes the value of the project and allowed it to go forward. If that political incongruity seems dissonant, it is also a way forward in a fractured time. As mine president Jim Cooper emailed me recently: “I owe you a conversation on climate change.” Barriers come down slowly and painfully. Wisdom, or progress, Randy knew, often comes, to quote Aeschylus, “against our will … through the awful grace of God.”
This is in keeping. Randy was known for a shocking irreverence that he balanced with a gentle, caring way. He would feed you chunks of muffin from his hands if he thought you were hungry; leave tomatoes on your porch; hand you red licorice on the trail, then be incommunicado for a month. I call him a part time warrior because Randy fought and then recharged, engaged in pitched battle, then disappeared into the woods.
He lived Ed Abbey’s rule: “Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am—a reluctant enthusiast… a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure.”
In the climate fight, Randy reminds us of the importance of our friends; of that fact that we are all cantankerous and difficult people, but we need each other desperately.
As he said to me not long before he died: “Auden, to the extent I was able to make friends, you have been a friend for a long time. You deserved more from me; others deserved more from me; I deserved more from me; and, above all, I needed others more than I ever suspected. As for the work I did at CORE, that you are doing at Ski Co, that needs to be done… It’s difficult and endless and exhausting and sometimes lonely. I read Romm’s blog and look at China’s emissions and try to make sense of where this is going to leave Tarn and Torrey and Ren, not to mention Willa. And the politics of it drive me nuts, McKibben holding hands with 12,000, picketing purportedly the most progressive president we’ve had, staking out a Democrat!”
The question Randy would ask of us is one he asked of me many times. “Are you strong?” This quality meant so much to Randy, but it was more than physical strength. He would ask us if we are strong enough to win this thing, to persevere despite our own doubts and limitations. Randy knew we could only do this together, as he said: “Dozens, hundreds of people chipping away at the iron glacier.” Randy would want nothing less of us than that we follow through with his life’s work.
If there is one quantum of solace, it is that Randy appears to have died very quickly, of perhaps a heart attack or stroke, mid-stride, outward bound on a flat high bench, off trail in the Wind River Range, his favorite place on earth. Just as we ought to be, he was girded for battle. He had his pack on his back, hiking poles in hand, certainly feeling the lightness and joy we all feel heading out on a new journey.
Under a vast, clear and blue Wyoming sky, he came to rest on his side. He was finally, to quote Stanley Kunitz, one of his favorite poets:
… absolved and free
of his burdens, those mottoes
stamped on his name-tag:
conscience, ambition, and all
To be rocked by the Infinite!
As if it didn’t matter
which way was home;
as if he didn’t know
he loved the earth so much
he wanted to stay forever.
Auden Schendler is the Aspen Skiing Company Sustainability VP and was friends with Randy Udall for many years. Schendler is also a previous High Country News contributor.
Randy Udall wrote several essays about energy and life for HCN over the years, including:
No thanks, Estonia: Estonia can keep its Stone Age, oil-shale technology, along with its air pollution.
High Noon for solar: Why does solar power development lag in the United States when it has taken off all over Europe?
Fracking is the big new gun: Hydraulic fracturing is changing the energy industry — and the entire nation — in ways we’re only beginning to understand.
The big bonfire: The economy is stuck in a ditch, but on climate change the U.S. is finally moving in the right direction.
Chill, baby, chill: The largest drilling boom in Western history is ending as new technologies make it easier to get shale gas from other parts of the country.
Renewables: The Final Frontier: Vaclav Smil is a historian who exemplifies Vulcan-style logic and skepticism when it comes to easy solutions to energy problems.
Mission critical: With global warming threatening the planet, even environmentalists are looking more kindly at natural gas.
The little island that could: The small Danish island of Samso runs entirely on renewable energy. The West could do the same.
It’s time to call the gas industry’s bluff: Randy Udall says it’s high time the gas industry paid its fair share of severance taxes in Colorado.
Falling off the heat ladder: In the Rocky Mountains, a cold and snowy winter reminds Westerners that the best way to stay warm is by conserving energy.
Oil shale is still a pig in a poke: The writer can’t believe oil shale is back
We are the Oil Tribe: Within the American Oil Tribe, oil matters so much and yet means so little that we refuse to even think about the fact that we are going to run out of it.
Randy Udall in late 2012, showing off a bow drill. Photo courtesy of the Whitman College Semester in the West
Late last month, 61-year-old Randy Udall shouldered a backpack and set out, alone, into the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. It was a habit of his: Randy was an experienced outdoorsman, and he periodically retreated from his busy, public life into the solitude of the Wind Rivers. He told his family that he would be home in western Colorado on June 26.
On July 3, after an intensive search, Randy’s body was discovered along the off-trail route he’d planned to follow. He had died suddenly, with his pack on his back and hiking poles still clutched in his fists, apparently of a heart attack or stroke.
Randy Udall was often identified by his relations. After all, he was a son of longtime Arizona congressman Morris “Mo” Udall, a nephew of Interior Secretary Stuart Udall, a brother of Colorado Senator Mark Udall, and a cousin of New Mexico Senator Tom Udall. The Udalls, descended from Mormon pioneers, are the Kennedys of the Rockies, and for generations they’ve championed the region’s often-overlooked landscapes and people.
Randy was an energy-efficiency expert and cofounder of the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, which promoted the use of renewable power in and around Aspen, Colo. Unlike many of his relatives, he worked outside the national spotlight. But as a journalist, I got to see the power and reach of what he did.
I didn’t know Randy well. (For a lovely and much more personal remembrance by his friend and colleague Auden Schendler, along with some of his own writings, seehere.) He was a generous longtime source, though, and I often saw him perform — there is no other word for it — on panels, behind podiums, and once, tour-guide style, from the front of a moving bus. Funny, irreverent, and a habitual charmer, he used his charisma to demystify one of the most mystifying, least charismatic and most important subjects on the planet.
He had a special talent for memorable metaphor. We are the Oil Tribe, he said, gobbling up oil faster than his brother Brad once gobbled up a box of Mystic Mints after a 100-mile ski. He liked to compare the energy crisis to being lost in a blizzard, and to point out that the way to survive in the snow wasn’t to find something else to burn, but to conserve as much heat as possible. He calculated that both Cap’n Crunch and dried pig manure contained more energy than oil shale.
Randy was a doer as well as a talker — a creative pragmatist, he found novel ways to promote renewables and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in his valley and beyond — but his talk was much more than, well, talk. Energy generation, distribution and use is extremely difficult to understand, and often about as interesting to hear about as wallpaper. Randy knew his stuff, and his explanations went down easy. Though he was an advocate, aiming to both enlighten and convince, it wasn’t necessary to agree with Randy in order to appreciate him. He helped his listeners see energy for what it is: the force running through all of our lives, the source of our power and very possibly our undoing, too.
Though we seem to be thoroughly, exhaustingly interconnected, it’s not quite so. Some of our most important global issues are so complicated, distant, or intangible that only a few people are capable of both penetrating them and translating them for others. The great Middle East reporter Anthony Shadid, who also died recently and much too soon, helped build an all-too-narrow bridge between a foreign world and our familiar one. Likewise, Randy decoded the complexities of energy and connected them with his listeners’ lives. He wasn’t the only person able to do so, but he was one of far too few. To lose him now, during this summer of killing heat waves and wildfires, burns especially deep.
Last fall, I met with a group of college students fresh from an afternoon with Randy. To demonstrate the meaning of a calorie, a horsepower, and a kilowatt-hour, he’d had them start a bow-drill fire to boil a quart of water, push a car two-tenths of a mile through the mud, and hike 800 vertical feet. Their delight in the experience was infectious, and their energy palpable. May it always be conserved.
A carpenter disappeared in the mountains here a few months ago. A talented craftsman, longtime local, a gentle soul with a caring wife, a daughter just turned 18, and many loving friends, he parked his truck at a trailhead and vanished. Nobody knows whether he had an accident, suffered a heart attack, was attacked by a cougar or took his own life. A massive search by friends and family found nothing except a lot of fresh bear sign. A psychic suggested he had fallen from a cliff and then been buried in a mudslide. Maybe an elk hunter will find his body. In the meantime, his family has held a service, memorable and moving, if haunted by the unknown.
In my experience, the problem with elk hunting is the elk. Trailing them through snowy woods, watching them flow down a steep hillside, their exhalations smoky in the cold, you come to admire them. After a few seasons, you might begin to like elk more than you like elk hunters, which constrains the take. Passing up shots, you begin to wonder why you still carry a rifle. (If you were really hungry, of course, it wouldn’t be hard to pull the trigger, but that kind of hunger is mostly a memory now.)
Snow is an instructive canvas. Seeing a dusty animal track on a summer trail, lacking the ability to follow it further, we forget that up ahead there’s an animal standing on those feet right now. In November, elk probably wish they could stop making tracks through the snow, but they can’t so they ditch you in icy terrain, where four feet offer an advantage.
We humans leave tracks, too, of course, but today our footprints are interrupted by jet contrails and automobile journeys. The lost carpenter – his name was Willie – probably traveled a million miles in his lifetime. Our incessant motion can’t change the fundamental reality – that we are all snowflakes, just here for a season. Is it that knowledge that makes us so restless? Makes us drive the distance to the Moon every 20 years? If so, is there any cure?
Many wolves and some bears in the Rockies now wear radio collars that emit one beeping signal when the animal is moving and another if it dies. If humans wore similar “mortality devices,” would it change our behavior? Would it slow us down or speed us up? We could call them the Apple iAm, link them directly to your Facebook page. Volunteers, anyone?
I asked the most peaceful woman I’ve met recently what explained her calm aura. She explained that she had spent the last two years living within a 100-mile radius of her home in western Colorado. She was taking an airplane sabbatical. All her flights had been grounded. An athlete, in the winter she coaches a nordic ski team, skating long distances across Grand Mesa, but she is no longer trying to outrun herself.
There are days in October when it seems a crime to be inside. On one of them I went walking up the rugged ridge behind where Willie presumably has been lost. I crossed Avalanche Creek on a log, then climbed game trails up a steep slope to the edge of an escarpment. From there I walked a long ridge above treeline, a tundra vagabond gazing into hanging basins on both sides. Blond grasses, crisp air, blue sky. I ate an apple at the pass, then dropped into Gift Creek to circle back around.
Lower down, some of the meadows were bordered by radiant aspen. In one, a group of hunters were gathered by wall tents. Their stocky buckskin horses were picketed nearby, pink flagging woven into their manes, to ward off incoming fire, presumably from errant Texans.
The sun had vanished behind the ridge, the air was cooling, and wildlife would soon be on the move, but these men were camped in the prettiest spot in Colorado and seemed in no rush to go hunting. We’re lucky to live in these mountains, I thought, and some of us to die here, too.
Teams looking for the brother of Colorado Sen. Mark Udall in western Wyoming’s Wind River Range have found his body, the family said Wednesday night.
James “Randy” Udall, 61, had left June 20 for a weeklong solo backpacking trip, setting off from a trailhead 10 miles northwest of Pinedale. He was due back a week ago.
Sen. Mark Udall’s office released a statement from the family saying Randy Udall’s body was found Wednesday. The family said that while an autopsy is forthcoming, it appears he died of natural causes.
“Randy left this earth doing what he loved most: hiking in his most favorite mountain range in the world,” the family said.
He had told his wife and indicated on a sign-in sheet at the trailhead that he planned to head for the scenic Titcomb Basin.
The family said Wednesday it appeared he was be on the obscure, off-trail route that he had proposed to his family.
“The entire Udall family is touched beyond words by the tremendous outpouring of support from people around the country. Randy’s passing is a reminder to all of us to live every day to its fullest, just as he did,” they said.
Randy Udall was an environmentalist and energy efficiency advocate whose family has been active in politics.
New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall is a cousin. His uncle, Stewart Udall, was Interior secretary in the 1960s. His father was the late U.S. Rep. Morris “Mo” Udall of Arizona.
Randy Udall helped found the nonprofit Community Office for Resource Energy Efficiency, which promotes the use of renewable energy in the Aspen, Colo., area.
I knew Randy fairly well having spent the better part of two winter months skiing the length of Colorado’s continental divide with him and a couple of other Crested Butte desperados back in the early 70′s and we also worked the Colorado Outward Bound School’s winter mountaineering program… He was surely a BIG life force. My respect and thoughts go out to the Udall family.
Albuquerque Journal reported Thursday (July 4) that the severe hail storm struck the town of Santa Rosa just after 6 p.m. MDT Wednesday, about 115 miles east of Albuquerque, with hail up to the size of golfballs, damaging multiple vehicles, homes and businesses.
Utah environmental activist Tim DeChristopher may have had the best national exposure of his life Tuesday night when he visited the “Late Show with David Letterman.
The host was clearly on his side. He called DeChristopher’s story “fascinating” and praised “Bidder 70,” the documentary about it.
And Letterman ended the 12-minute segment by saying, “This gentleman has done us all a favor. Tim, thank you very much.”
DeChristopher spent 21 months in prison after he interrupted and undermined a federal oil and gas auction for lands adjoining national parks in Utah. He explained his reasons, saying, “It was kind of a prime example of the drill-now, think later mentality that’s really driving the climate crisis.”
He also said he had no strategy in mind when he arrived at the auction other than “making a speech or standing up and yelling. It was right after that guy threw a shoe at [George W.] Bush, so that was kind of in the back of my mind.”
Richie Havens, a Brooklyn-born singer who sang gospel as a teenager, began playing folk music in Greenwich Village clubs in the 1960s and was the opening act at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair in 1969, died Monday of a heart attack at his home in Jersey City, N.J., according to his agent. He was 72 years old.
Havens had a long career as a musician, but if he had done nothing else, his performance at Woodstock would secure his place in American music history. Havens was the first performer to walk onto the stage at the festival; he sat on a stool and performed for nearly two hours — including an improvisation that incorporated the spiritual “Motherless Child,” later called “Freedom.” It became a highlight of the documentary about the festival and introduced him to audiences around the world.
As a black performer, he was a rarity in the folk-dominated Greenwich Village scene. His sandpaper soft voice and percussive guitar playing caught the ear of folk impresario Albert Grossman, who first signed Bob Dylan and helped create Peter, Paul and Mary. Havens released his breakout album, Mixed Bag, in 1967.
Havens went on to act in films and on television, and he continued recording for more than 40 years. He had a Top 20 hit in 1971 with a cover of The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun” and released his last album, Nobody Left to Crown, in 2008. But it was onstage — with his guitar — that Havens was in his element. He toured constantly and in 2008 told NPR that he never planned his shows beyond the opening and closing songs.
“Many times people have come up to me after and they’d, they’d say, ‘Richie, do you know what you did?’ I’d say, ‘What?’ They’d go, ‘I wrote these songs down for you to sing and you sang ‘em all in a row.’ That’s the kind of communication happens, you know,” Havens said. “It’s like if you let the audience lead, then you are the audience.”
Havens connected with audiences from stages large and small for more than 50 years.
Richie Havens, Folk Icon, Dead at 72
Brooklyn native opened Woodstock in 1969
Richie Havens, who brought an earthy soulfulness to the folk scene of the Sixties and was the first act to hit the stage at Woodstock, died of a heart attack on Monday, April 22. He was 72 and was living in Jersey City, New Jersey. Last month, Havens announced he would no longer be touring due to health issues.
From the beginning, when he played Village folk clubs in the mid-Sixties, Havens stood out due to more than just his imposing height (he was six-and-a-half feet tall) and his ethnicity (African-American in a largely white folk scene). He played his acoustic guitar with an open tuning and in a fervent, rhythmic style, and he sang in a sonorous, gravel-road voice that connected folk, blues and gospel.
Like many of his peers, Havens was a songwriter (he co-wrote one of his best-known songs, “Handsome Johnny,” with actor Lou Gossett Jr.). But Havens also knew a great contemporary song when he heard it, and made his name covering and rearranging songs by Bob Dylan (“Just Like a Woman,” “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”) and the Beatles(“With a Little Help from My Friends,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Here Comes the Sun”). “Music is the major form of communication,” he told Rolling Stone in 1968. “It’s the commonest vibration, the people’s news broadcast, especially for kids.”
Rosa Khutor, where the Alpine Center and the Extreme Park are, present the biggest concerns to Olympic organizers.
SOCHI, Russia — The biggest worry among organizers for next year’s Winter Olympics is not whether the sites will be in order, or that the 30-mile road and the new railroad tracks and the thousands of hotel rooms all being built from scratch will be complete, or that the stands will be full of fans despite this city’s remote location.
The biggest worry is the one the Russians cannot control: the weather.
And they have plenty of reasons to worry.
Sochi is more worrisome. This city of nearly 500,000, filled with palm trees and year-round flowers, hugs the shore of the Black Sea. Unlike Vancouver, where most of the outdoor mountain events were held 90 minutes away around Whistler, the venues in the Caucasus Mountains are about 30 minutes away, up a winding canyon.
On the advice of a Finnish company called Snow Secure, the goal this season is to stockpile 500,000 cubic meters of snow into 10 shady pockets above the venues. The massive piles will be covered by insulated blankets, not unlike giant yoga mats, to protect them from the heat of summer.
Up to half of the saved snow may melt by next winter, but the site managers said they could conduct the Olympics even in the unlikely event that no natural snow falls next winter. The stockpiled snow can be shoved down the mountain with Sno-Cats or guided onto steep slides — pipes, a meter in diameter, cut in half — aimed at where the snow is most needed.