Stoning as the punishment for the “crime” of adultery, reinstatement of this Taliban-era punishment for Afghanistan.
The last 12 years have been a time of significant achievements here, hard-fought by Afghan activists. Millions of girls have gone to school, women have joined the police and the army and the civil service. Twenty-eight percent of the members of Afghanistan’s Parliament are women, and a 2009 law made violence against women a crime.
But signs are everywhere that a rollback of women’s rights has begun in anticipation of next year’s deadline for the withdrawal of international combat forces. Opponents of women’s rights are already taking advantage of growing international fatigue with Afghanistan.
Jerry….From R to L…..Highlands Bowl, The “Fingers Chutes”, Pyramid Peak (peaking above the ridge). Seen from Aspen Mtn (AKA; Credit Card Burner Peak).
If you zoom way into the Bowl you can see numerous craters/shot holes where they are “Riveting” the pack down. Later on today they repeated the procedure sending a team of 4 – 5 into the Bowl to clear out Insurgents. They Bombed their way down with IED’s. Apparently not worried about “Post Control Releases”. This area has been foot packed earlier in the year (peasants in huarache sandals).
A group of scientists envision a system that would use satellites to “vigorously monitor” potential threats resulting from climate change, similar to storm monitoring.
A council of expert scientists at the National Academy of Science is calling for the development of a abrupt climate change early warning system. It would alert the public and scientists to potentially harmful natural disasters, such as rising sea levels or an increases in global temperature. The imagined system would keep close watch of potential threats, even if they are years off in the future. The recommendations were released in early December, along with a broader report from the Committee on Understanding and Monitoring Abrupt Climate Change. Jim White, a professor of geological studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, is chairman.
The report, says White, aims to convey a greater sense of urgency to counter, as he has observed, how most tend to think of climate change — as slowly unfolding events or patterns, like increasingly longer droughts that provoke a less imminent and lower-level sense of concern. To the contrary, the professor cautions that issues affecting the climate will eventually reach a major tipping point, triggering natural disasters.
The recent push by White and fellow scientists also serves as their message to the federal government. The Boulder geologist says the Obama administration isn’t investing enough resources into monitoring long-term climate patterns and their potential consequences, investments that could be made in tools like warning systems proposed by the group.
We all know the story, or think we do.
Let me tell it the old way, then the new way. See which worries you most.
First version: Easter Island is a small 63-square-mile patch of land — more than a thousand miles from the next inhabited spot in the Pacific Ocean. In A.D. 1200 (or thereabouts), a small group of Polynesians — it might have been a single family — made their way there, settled in and began to farm. When they arrived, the place was covered with trees — as many as 16 million of them, some towering 100 feet high.
These settlers were farmers, practicing slash-and-burn agriculture, so they burned down woods, opened spaces, and began to multiply. Pretty soon the island had too many people, too few trees, and then, in only a few generations, no trees at all.
As Jared Diamond tells it in his best-selling book, Collapse, Easter Island is the “clearest example of a society that destroyed itself by overexploiting its own resources.” Once tree clearing started, it didn’t stop until the whole forest was gone. Diamond called this self-destructive behavior “ecocide” and warned that Easter Island’s fate could one day be our own.
3″ of windblown new
An angry little storm continues to brew out there. Temperatures are dropping everywhere as more arctic air seeps into the region. Winds are still southerly, but have started to veer to the west.
Current in Silverton: 8°, windy- W/10-15 gust/20s, 5″ new snow
Current on Passes: Temps 0° to 8°, windy, 5″-10″+ favoring south
Current at alpine wx stns: Temps -8° to -3°, RH in the mid 80s%, winds SW/25-35, gusts/50-70+
Winds speeds and snowfall are forecast to taper off today, with bitter cold temps tonight.
New snow as of 7 AM. Snow is dense and highly wind affected. Rowdy westerly winds continue to move lots of snow around out there.
This was the Saint Germain Foundation’s lodge and religious retreat, a former ski lodge, before it burned in January 1952. The group’s religious beliefs were upheld in a major U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1944, two years after the organization had bought the lodge.
ANDREW GULLIFORD/Special to the Herald
The lodge burned in January 1952, and that fall members of the “I AM” religious group built a garage on the site. The garage still stands immediately adjacent to U.S. Highway 550. Leigh Ann Hunt, forest archaeologist for the Grand Mesa-Uncompahgre-Gunnison National Forest, says, “The Saint Germain group came planning to do big things and then it never materialized. The lake and garage are now landmarks in Ironton and they will be managed to preserve them.”
ANDREW GULLIFORD/Special to the Herald
A water tank and wooden platform still stand from members of the “I AM” religious group whose adherents moved to Ouray in 1942 and brought new perspectives to the old mining town. After their main lodge burned, members continued to camp on the site.
ANDREW GULLIFORD/Special to the Herald
Few structures remain on the 800-acre site, but one extant building is this cellar or storage area. It includes traces of yellow and purple paint on the interior.
ANDREW GULLIFORD/Special to the Herald
The concrete foundation of the original 1940s lodge can still be seen at the north edge of Ironton Park. Built as a ski lodge, the building became a retreat for the Saint Germain Foundation and “I AM” religious teachings.
Driving across Colorado and the West, I see historic buildings or structures that compel me to get out of my truck and take a walk. For years, I’ve driven between Silverton and Ouray and noticed the large stone garage just east of Crystal Lake in Ironton Park. I’ve always wondered what it was, but in my most vivid imagination I could never have created the story I’m about to tell.
No fiction. Just fact. Including: a ski area, a religion, loudspeakers sounding heavenly music, a couple’s spiritual beliefs tested all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, a tragic fire, a yellow Cadillac, and the colors of the rainbow.
The story begins simply enough. A couple of friends decided to build a ski area.
Ouray businessman Joseph Condotti and Ralph Kullerstrand, president of Citizen’s State Bank, acquired patented mining claims on the north end of Ironton Park, and using lumber and bricks recycled from the Saratoga Smelter, built a two-story lodge with a full basement and attic. Ouray historian Don Paulson writes, “They built a ski lift with seven towers, the remnants of which can still be found, and cleared a run of approximately 1,800 feet.”
Across U.S. Highway 550, the partners created today’s Crystal Lake and stocked it with trout, which Colorado Gov. Ralph Carr ate while he attended the lodge’s opening ceremonies in 1940. But the lodge never succeeded. The business partnership failed.
Paulson writes, “Some believe that avalanche hazard was the cause of the disagreement. The Guadalupe slide runs just north of the lodge building and would have threatened the ski run.”
As the ski area sat vacant, a burgeoning religious movement, borne out of the desperation of the Great Depression, lost one of its founders. The religion’s practitioners sought solace in the San Juan Mountains. They bought the lodge and ski area.
In many cultures around the world, mountains are seen as sacred places. Ouray bills itself as “the Switzerland of America,” so maybe that’s why in the 1940s the Saint Germain Foundation bought the unused ski lodge for a religious retreat. A decade earlier in 1930, Guy W. Ballard, hiking on Mount Shasta in northern California, had encountered the Ascended Master Saint Germain. That experience was the origin of the “I AM” religious teachings.
According to the Saint Germain Foundation, Jesus Christ was an Ascended Master, and Joan of Arc and Benjamin Franklin were earlier embodiments of Mrs. Guy Ballard. In the 1930s, Saint Germain inspired Guy Ballard to write books titled Unveiled Mysteries and The Magic Presence. The books communicate theosophy, and volume No. 3 is The ‘I AM’ Discourses, which are sacred scriptures and part of the Ascended Master Teachings religion. In 1939, Guy Ballard became an Ascended Master.
The “I AM” movement grew spectacularly during the dark days of the Depression. In 1942, the federal government indicted his wife, Edna Ballard, their son Donald Ballard and other affiliates on 12 counts including mail fraud. They were convicted of organizing a moneymaking scheme, and the same year the foundation bought the lodge and members moved to Ouray seeking privacy. The Ballard family appealed the convictions, and two years later the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in one of the most important decisions about religious freedom in the 20th century.
The Ballards won. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned their conviction in United States v. Ballard 322 U.S. 78 (1944). In a victory for the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, the high court ruled that the tenets of one’s religious faith could not be legally challenged.
Now comes her yellow Cadillac, Mrs. Edna Ballard, and members of the “I AM” religion. They preferred the colors of the rainbow, including purple and yellow, and her inner staff wore formal clothes. One story is that a local Ouray teacher involved in the “I AM” religious group would not tolerate red and black crayons in her schoolroom. The lodge held a sanctuary on the main floor for regular services. Sounds of violins, carillon bells – at the time the highest in the world – and harp music wafted down the canyon. Nearby were plans for a music healing temple.
Lifelong member Bud Thayer knew Mrs. Ballard and he told me, “She was guided by Saint Germain in what she did in purchasing the property. We were very near a concentration of spiritual energy in that whole area for a number of miles around. We regard that property as very sacred.”
Followers of the religious group produced radio broadcasts “that went all over the world” through wire connections from the property. Normally five to 10 people lived on site, but when Mrs. Ballard arrived there could be as many as 25 assistants.
“She came three to four times a year. She absolutely loved it. She was at her happiest at the lodge in Ouray,” Thayer says.
On the site, a root cellar still has traces of purple and yellow paint. A careful hiker can find little patios under pine trees, short hand-stacked stone walls, and other rock masonry architectural features.
To this day the Chicago-based Saint Germain Foundation exists worldwide with over 300 “I AM” sanctuaries and centers, including one in Santa Fe. But not in Ouray.
After buying the ski area in 1942, the religious group purchased mining claims until they owned an 800-acre site.
According to Paulson, “In 1947 they announced plans to open a large summer camp able to house over 500 people but that never materialized. Unfortunately, in January of 1952, the lodge caretaker accidentally set the building on fire using a blowtorch” while melting snow and icicles on the roof. Because of prevailing canyon winds the old mining timbers burned instantly. Terraces show where summer cabins would have been built.
Today, only the concrete foundation of the lodge remains and I like to hike around it. I think about the ski area and summer camp that could have been but never was. The stone garage built in the fall of 1952 is locked. Plans included rebuilding the lodge one or two stories atop the garage, but instead it became a truck and storage area.
The foundation held on to the property for a few more decades and members of the organization camped on site. On Feb. 10, 1971, . Edna Ballard died in Chicago and took her ascension as the Ascended Lady Master Lotus.
Assisted by federal funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Red Mountain Project and the Trust for Public Land purchased the 800 acres and transferred it back to the U.S. Forest Service. What was private is now public land.
Leigh Ann Hunt, forest archaeologist for the Grand Mesa-Uncompahgre-Gunnison National Forest, has written a cultural resource inventory of the site. A stout metal and wood picnic table remains, and I love the stone walls and terraces that look like elves built them.
I agree with the Saint Germain Foundation. Mountains are sacred places. The foundation established more permanent quarters at Mount Shasta, and their former Colorado religious retreat is once again public domain. For me, the silvery San Juans meet my spiritual needs, and though I like rainbow colors, I prefer blue – sky blue – the color you see at 12,000 feet.
As winter sweeps in, elementary school students across the United States will learn that no two snowflakes are alike. Is that really true? Mental Floss magazine asked Kenneth Libbrecht, a physics professor at the California Institute of Technology. [Editor's note: Mental Floss magazine is only available in print.]
While most oxygen atoms have eight neutrons, some come with 10, which, Mr. Libbrecht says, changes the shape of water molecules and affects how they freeze.
“There’s no fundamental law of the universe that says snowflakes can’t be identical,” according to Mental Floss. “But since each flake is made of millions of randomly arrayed water molecules that aren’t quite uniform, the odds of stumbling into twin flakes are astronomically slim.”
Libbrecht estimates that there are more unique shapes for snowflakes than there are atoms in the universe. Good luck finding a copycat.
another winters day project that might have to wait til you have more time….
Temperatures are rising faster in the winter than in the summer, a trend that will likely have a profound impact on the tourism sector. Host Scott Simon speaks with Auden Schendler, of the Aspen Skiing Company, about how climate change is influencing the winter sports.
The black-humored art of Ralph Steadman is forever linked with the outrageous writing of the late Hunter S. Thompson, the dean of gonzo journalism and a longtime contributor to Rolling Stone. Steadman, an English cartoonist and painter, first accompanied his friend to the Kentucky Derby at the end of the Sixties – an assignment that infamously helped Thompson create his unique style of writing, which ran roughshod over any pretense of objectivity and evenhandedness. Steadman, now 77, drew in a slashing, gleefully spattered style rooted invariably in the notion that it’s all unremittingly horrible. . . so let’s have a drink. His work is collected in the magnificent new book Proud Too Be Weirrd, excerpted here for the first time. —James Sullivan