Tag Archives: western

Alternative map of the American West – as sustainable water regions

From Mapping the Nation:

A beautiful–and extremely controversial–map made by John Wesley Powell…best known for his insistence the west must be understood as an arid region, one that demanded irrigation and management rather than a reliance on rainfall. In the late 1880s, Powell undertook a large-scale survey of the far west to demonstrate that the region was made up of interdependent watersheds, or what he termed irrigation districts.

And he brought this knowledge before Congress in 1890 asking them to use this map as the foundation for establishing Western states. At the time they were distributing large parcels of land – in no particular order – through the Homestead Act.

They didn’t listen and the dream of a sustainable West – without water problems – was lost.

 

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Paintballing with Hezbollah – they cheat, take hostages, and bring their own grenades

We figured they’d cheat; they were Hezbollah, after all. But none of us—a team of four Western journalists—thought we’d be dodging military-grade flash bangs when we initiated this “friendly” paintball match.

As my eyesight returns and readjusts to the dim arena light, I poke out from my position behind a low cinder-block wall. Two large men in green jumpsuits are bearing down on me. I have them right in my sights, but they seem unfazed—even as I open fire from close range, peppering each with several clear, obvious hits. I expect them to freeze, maybe even acknowledge that this softie American journalist handily overcame their flash-bang trickery and knocked them out of the game. Perhaps they’ll even smile and pat me on the back as they walk off the playing field in a display of good sportsmanship (after cheating, of course).

Instead, they shoot me three times, point-blank, right in the groin…

Yes, I remind myself, this is really happening: Four Western journalists (two of whom alternated in and out of our rounds of four-on-four), plus one former Army Ranger-turned-counterinsurgency expert, are playing paintball with members of the Shiite militant group frequently described by US national security experts as the “A-Team of terrorism.” It took nearly a full year to pull together this game, and all along I’d been convinced that things would fall apart at the last minute. Fraternizing with Westerners is not the sort of thing Hezbollah top brass allows, so to arrange the match I’d relied on a man we’ll call Ali, one of my lower-level contacts within the group.

 

Keep readingPaintballing with Hezbollah, is the path straight to their hearts

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U.S. adds more Predator drones to search for drugs in the Caribbean

After quietly testing Predator drones over the Bahamas for more than 18 months, the Department of Homeland Security plans to expand the unmanned surveillance flights into the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico to fight drug smuggling, according to U.S. officials.

The move would dramatically increase U.S. drone flights in the Western Hemisphere, more than doubling the number of square miles now covered by the department’s fleet of nine surveillance drones, which are used primarily on the northern and southwestern U.S. borders.

But the high-tech aircraft have had limited success spotting drug runners in the open ocean. The drones have largely failed to impress veteran military, Coast Guard and Drug Enforcement Agency officers charged with finding and boarding speedboats, fishing vessels and makeshift submarines ferrying tons of cocaine and marijuana to America’s coasts.

 

Keep readingU.S. plans more drone flights over Caribbean

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