Floyd J. McKay - "When it comes to the border, the U.S. has crossed a line" from the Seattle Times
My first trip to a foreign country was a short ride in my uncle's fishing boat, across Lake Metigoshe to Canada — where the flag at the bait-and-beer store was definitely not Old Glory and the proprietor kept saying "eh" at the end of sentences.
I was about 10 years old, and I'd never been out of North Dakota — but I had been in another country! And it was really easy, no passports or security screening despite the legends of bootleggers making that trip during Prohibition.
I'm still a "borderite," but let me tell you, the trip isn't as easy as it was then, and it's not getting easier.
That's something we ought to think about before we impose even more Draconian measures on the 5,500 miles often called the longest peaceful border in the world.
Washington's congressional delegation needs to push a comprehensive examination of border policies, not just because trade with Canada is a big deal in this state, but also because the Bush administration once again is using 9/11 fears to impose new restrictions on travel and more invasions of privacy.
Most of our current attention is directed at the 2009 deadline for adults crossing the border to have passports. Some 30 percent of Americans and 40 percent of Canadians have passports now, and it appears the Department of Homeland Security will approve a deal between Washington and British Columbia to honor an "enhanced" driver's license instead.
But beyond the passport regulation is a larger issue of how we handle border crossings, and how our borders are perceived not only by Canadians but also by all international travelers. In a reputable international survey, 39 percent said the U.S. was the world's worst in terms of being traveler-friendly, including document processing and "having immigration officials who are respectful toward foreign visitors." The Middle East and South Asia were "next worst," at 16 percent. Canada was cited by only 2 percent.
This survey, by Discover America Partnership, an advocacy organization for America's tourism industry, confirms what a lot of borderites already know — we seem to go out of our way to insult, intimidate and discourage visitors. We've gone across the border with Scottish friends, middle-aged professionals who were pulled out of line, rudely questioned and kept waiting for no apparent reason. One friend, after witnessing U.S. border agents harass an East Asian family, said it reminded him of his native South Africa.
At least 39 states have more trade with Canada than any other nation, but concern about policies that are off-putting to visitors and businesses is heaviest along the border. The Democratic takeover of Congress should help — a lot of blue states are along the northern border.
Something clearly has gone wrong since 9/11. Western Washington University's Center for Economics and Business Research tracks the correlation between the dollar-exchange rate and Canadians crossing the border at Blaine. From 1990 until 2002, whenever the exchange rate rose for Canadians, more came south to shop and visit. But after 2002, the lines diverged — the Canadian dollar climbed from 65 percent of the U.S. dollar in 2002 to nearly 90 percent in 2007, but southbound border crossings remained at their 2002 level.
Canadians are as canny about their dollar as Americans, but they — and many others as well — perceive an American border that is increasingly hostile to visitors.
That is bad for America. Surveys show that if foreigners actually visit, their opinions are much higher than if they only learn about the U.S. from others. The American tourist industry earns more than $65 billion a year from international travelers, but of equal importance is our standing in the community of nations.
Our leaders don't seem to get it. Their latest scheme is to require foreign visitors to produce 10 fingers for fingerprinting, which will go into a world databank that now has 80 million prints. Current practice is two fingers, already a distinct irritation to travelers who do not think of themselves as terrorism suspects.
The 10-finger plan is promoted by Paul Rosenzweig, a Department of Homeland Security "privacy expert" who staunchly defended the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness program, which was so inclusive in its mining of private data that the Republican Congress shut it down in 2003. These people don't go away; they are like vacuum cleaners for private data.
Sophisticated travelers are accustomed to passing European borders without checkpoints, and being treated as if their tourism and business are welcome.
All of them have passports, but passports are just the tip of the iceberg. We mishandle our borders in other ways that hurt America and do nothing to stop terrorism.
Security doesn't require bad manners.
Floyd J. McKay, a journalism professor emeritus at Western Washington University
Editor's Note: Our family enjoys travelling to Canada. Our most recent trip was last summer to join a friend, my Canadian Connection, for some challenging golf on Vancouver Island near Victoria. We've never been intimidated by Canadian Customs but returning to the USA is always anxiety producing although we've never been pulled over for an inspection. However, returning to San Diego on a day trip to Tijuana can be really traumatic. But in our one trip south of the border we went by bus and the driver knew the ropes and got us back into the USA no harm, no foul. One would hope that requiring a VISA, which is a hastle on this end, will expedite the process. But as they say the devil is in the details. Glad you don't need one to visit Hawaii. [Picture above is BC's Parliament in Victoria, BC from the harbor].
Floyd J. McKay - "When it comes to the border, the U.S. has crossed a line" from the Seattle Times
African-Americans who are suspected of criminal behavior, the mentally ill who act out on the street and now uppity anti-war protesters seem to be special focal points for Portland's finest. The first two are at risk of being killed, the latter simply dragged through the street and/or kicked while being arrested.
Yesterday's "family friendly" anti-war rally and march in Portland appeared peaceful but the folks who showed up along 3rd street near the ironically named Justice Center were admittedly in a surly mood. But the police could have simply allowed the demonstrators to occupy 3rd street until they got tired, cold and/or bored.
But instead the police over reacted to a few baiters in the crowd and reminded one of Chicago '68 on admittedly a small scale. It proves that having a woman chief of police does not change the attitude and behavior of those who serve on Portland's thin blue line. In a city and state known for civility the scenes on the tube last night were an embarrassment.
According to a Portland Police Bureau spokesperson: "There's a group that just doesn't want to leave," But according to the Oregonian the group dwindled as darkness deepened. Well duh, why not just wait them out? Or do the police need to test out their latest equipment on some of our local anarchists?
Arrest charges varied from harassment to disorderly conduct and vandalism. Now do you really expect our overcrowded jail to keep them overnight? How many want hardened criminals released to the streets to allow a few unrully anarchists and their ilk to see the inside of the Justice Center?
PS: RAD passed up the opportunity to join with the 10,000 plus to instead see a play at the Gerding, Pillowman - a Kafkaeque theater of the absurb play about police brutality and freedom of the press in a totalitarian state. Sometimes art mimics real life too closely! After the play was over we stepped outside into the sunny afternoon in the Pearl District to see a police helicopter hovering loudly over downtown Portland. Big Brother is alive and well in the People's Republic of Portland.
A Tiger slump? Clearly Tiger Woods' vaunted ability to focus is not in evidence after his pathetic round of 76 Sunday, matched by his second round of 73. His performance on the Arnold Palmer Invitational held at the Bay Hill course in Orlando was shocking. But equally disappointing was his refusal to talk with the media afterwards. RAD is a huge Tiger fan and I've defended his less than perfect demeanor on and off the course in the past, but no more.
Tiger, you are 30 plus, you are married, you are about to have your first child and you are an icon to millions of golf fans, old and young, all over the world. It's about time you grew up and started acting like an adult and role model. If you don't, then your spoiled brat behavior will start to weigh your career down much as Bobby Jones' off the course bad behavior (alcholism) sullied his reputation - although the code of silence over Jones still exists.
Tiger, you are the best player who has ever played the game - but along with that title of #1 must come that grace under fire one associates with true champions. Admittedly, few if any athletes in the current professional sports scene live up to their image of greatness away from the field of play - but you are a singular person who should. In this era of overpriced pro athletes we have come to expect little off the field of play.
But the pro golf tours give a lot back to the communities in which the tours play. And golfers are as a group pretty good role models. But to truly be #1 requires one not merely win a lot, but to show good sportsmanship on and off the field. That grace was lacking today and it's not the first time. Grow up Tiger. Your fans are watching and soon will be your first child.
Being the greatest ever to play not only has lifted the bar of competition and expectations in golf but also the requirement that greatest on the course be matched by greatness off the course. Tiger Woods' presence has raised the revenue stream pro golf commands and his leadership of the Tiger Woods' Foundation deserves our respect. However, true greatness cannot be purchased by simply scoring low or giving money to good causes.
True greatness must be earned by exemplary behavior on and off the field of dreams. And just because few can live up to that expectation doesn't make the raising of that high bar unfair. It simply means that greatness is not one-dimensional. As Martin Luther King said - we should be "judged by the content of our character, not the color of our skins." We'll Tiger you've met the first test, now how about the second one?
PS: Now who is #1 in golf today? VJ Singh has won twice this season at the Mercedes in Kapalua and today at Bay Hill. But where are the other pretenders to Tiger's mantle? Lefty, Sergio, the Goose and Ernie all seem lifeless and winless. So far, aside from a 40 something VJ, the '07 season has been punctuated by "second tier" players winning. Good for them. It's time for the money men to show their stripes - beginning with Tiger.
By Russell Sadler
Although is it politically fashionable to be preoccupied with petroleum these days, the most contentious resource in Oregon over the next 50 years is likely to be water.
Ironically, in a state where it rains so much you see bumper stickers proclaiming “Oregonians don’t tan. They rust,” there is growing concern about the future adequacy of drinking water supplies.
Water shaped the European-American settlement of the Oregon Country more than 150 years ago. With the exception of Oregon City, the territorial capital, Oregon’s oldest cities were not built on the valley floor of the Willamette, Rogue and Columbia Basins. The oldest cities, [Forest Grove], Astoria, McMinnville, Silverton and Ashland among them, were built on higher ground in the foothills of Cascades, Siskiyous and the Coast Range to avoid the periodic flooding that inundated settlements on the valley floor.
And the real growth of the Rogue and Willamette valleys did not occur until after World War II when federal dams were built on the tributaries allowing development on land once swept regularly by seasonal flooding.
Oregon’s population doubled in the 1950s and ‘60s. It doubled again between 1970 and 2000. It is projected to double again by 2025. The fastest growing part of the state over the last 30 years is Central Oregon -- Bend, Redmond, Prineville and La Pine -- and is expected to remain the fastest growing region during the next 25 years.
The drinking water for nearly all Western and Central Oregon cities comes from tributaries fed by rain and snowmelt in the Cascades, Siskiyous and Coast Range. These rivers provide the water that recharges the aquifers that supply rural well water for domestic use and agricultural irrigation. The water rights to virtually all Oregon rivers are overappropriated, and builders and developers are turning to groundwater to supply the growing population.
The State Water Resources Department has growing evidence that ground water is being consumed faster than it can be replaced. The department fears the aquifers are declining, especially in drier Central and Eastern Oregon, where irrigators and cities are more dependent on groundwater supplies than in Western Oregon.
Decades ago the legislature tried to get a handle on this problem by requiring large-volume water users to replace ground water they pumped out by creating a “banking” system of water rights that can be purchased from others who do not use their entire water right. This exchange of water rights provides extra instream flow to recharge the aquifers.
But the legislature exempted certain “rural wells” on individual ranches and farms that were used for “domestic” purposes from the requirement to replace the water they consume.
This exemption has become a loophole that encourages rural development. The Water Resources Department estimates there are 230,000 exempt wells in rural areas of the state and they are growing by 3,000 a year. Measure 37, the deceptive developer rights measure that appears to permit more rural residential development, threatens to steeply increase the number of exempt wells.
Exempt wells for domestic consumption compete directly with regulated well water for agricultural irrigation. At a time when farmers are considering growing new crops to produce biofuels, they will have to dig deeper wells to keep up with the declining water levels in the aquifer. The problem could become acute as the number of wells exempt from the requirement to replace the water they consume grows rapidly.
There are new exempt wells going in on aquifers where the Water Resources Department has already restricted large volume uses in the Umatilla Basin and further east in Christmas Valley in Lake County.
Exempt wells can pump as much as 15,000 gallons of water a day from underground aquifers before becoming a regulated large-volume user. Not every rural well consumes 15,000 gallon daily, but that’s the problem. They are not regulated so no one knows how much water is pumped from exempt wells.
It is time to regulate exempt wells to tally their consumption and restrict new wells until we get a better picture of underground water supplies. Rep. Jackie Dingfelder, D-Portland, who chairs the House Energy and Environment Committee, has convened a working group that includes lobbyists from the Oregon Farm Bureau who want more regulations on exempt rural domestic wells and the Oregon Association of Realtors who don’t. But there are larger public interests involved than just these to economically interested lobby groups.
There are important signs that many of Oregon’s river ecosystems are no longer functioning properly because of human impacts. That should be enough evidence to persuade the legislature to act on water conservation issues before the problem becomes a crisis.
RAD: RS has again focused on an issue which illustrates the "idiocy" of Measure 37. When you allow individuals to carve out formerly protected farm and timber land for development you also create changes below ground which have consequences we don't initially see (check out the map in last Sunday's Oregonian). Ecologists term this problem as the "tragedy of the commons."
We only have to look to our neighbor to the south to see the Faustian nexus of water, land and development. As Measure 37 accelerates this process rural land values will rise driving out those who live there now as they are replaced by yuppies coming from the southland, creating another target group facing housing insecurity. The first law of environmental sanity is that "everything is interconnected"; second law "there is no such thing as a free lunch."
Portland will be the scene on this Sunday of a major anti-Iraq war rally and march. RAD will be there is spirit but not in body. But for those who can join in check out the banner on the left.
Got this info from my former student Chuck Currie, pastor at Parkrose Community United Church of Christ (105th and NE Wygant).
This week marks the 4th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands have died since then and the region has been left in chaos.
The invasion was opposed by the Vatican and the World Council of Churches and here at home the National Council of Churches USA helped led opposition to the war.
Pastor Currie says that "Jesus calls on us to be peacemakers but our government has chosen a different, more destructive path."
His Sunday sermon will be on "War is contrary to the will of God."
Chuck is also a leader on homelessness. Imagine what we could do with that 9 billion per month here on the homefront?
Last fall the National Council of Churches issued a statement that read in part: "….united together as the National Council of Churches USA, we call upon the U.S. Government to recognize that the continued presence of occupying forces has not provided meaningful security for Iraqi citizens and only exacerbates escalating violence, and begin an immediate phased withdrawal of American and coalition forces from Iraq with a timetable that provides for an expeditious final troop withdrawal. And we further call upon our government to link this withdrawal plan to benchmarks for rebuilding Iraqi society, since the reconstruction of infrastructure, the restoration of essential services, and a foundation for economic growth are necessary to nurture Iraqi hopes for a stable future, and to steps to meet the security concerns of all Iraqis, including the more vulnerable, smaller ethnic and religious communities."