More than three decades after the Endangered Species Act gave the federal government tools and a mandate to protect animals, insects and plants threatened with extinction, the landmark law is facing the most intense efforts ever by the White House, Congress, landowners and industry to limit its reach.
More than any time in the law's 32-year history, the obligations it imposes on government and, indirectly, on landowners are being challenged in the courts, reworked in the agencies responsible for enforcing it and re-examined in Congress.
In some cases, the challenges are broad and sweeping, as when the Bush administration, in a legal battle over the best way to protect endangered salmon, declared Western dams to be as much a part of the landscape as the rivers they control. In others, the actions are deep in the realm of regulatory bureaucracy, as when a White House appointee at the Interior Department sought to influence scientific recommendations involving the sage grouse, a bird whose habitat includes areas of likely oil and gas deposits.
[. . .]
In one instance, a top aide to Craig Manson, the assistant interior secretary who oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service, edited the scientific assessment of the sage grouse's status, playing down accounts of its range and population declines. The edited assessment and the original document prepared by scientists were sent to an expert panel, which recommended against listing the grouse as endangered; the Interior Department did not list it.
The above is from Felicity Barringer's "Endangered Species Act Faces Broad New Challenges" in this morning's New York Times. There were a number of e-mails on this article. Many wondered whether we would ignore it or if we'd softball it. (We is Ava and C.I.)
We read it with trepidation (not surprising, all things considered) and we'll note it as strong and worth reading. The "balance" the Times so strives for is there. In addition, the type ofl balance the community longs for is there. It's solid reporting that sticks to the facts and actually walks you through. (Barringer deserves credit for that as does the Times since Bill Keller's made his desire for shorter pieces known). If you're coming in blind on the topic, you don't have to depend on allusions, it's all spelled out clearly and consisely.
Are we softballing it? No. If we thought it had problems, we'd say so. If we felt it was ridiculous, we'd already prepared some jokes based upon the headline -- and note, having completed our review of The OC only an hour or so, we were fully loaded for the hunt if it was needed. (We went through the e-mails, or the top fifty -- that's two screen pages in yahoo e-mail accounts -- before diving into the paper so we knew of the article before we'd read it.) We'll praise the article and stand behind the praise. Felicity Barringer is entitled to disagree but we find it to be a strong article and, were the topic of Grey & Van Natta's story not related to the so-called War on Terror, we would have happily made it the spotlight entry for this morning.
Another story worth reading is Donald G. McNeil Jr. and Alexei Barrionuevo's "For Months, Agriculture Department Delayed Announcing Result of Mad Cow Test:"
Although the Agriculture Department confirmed Friday that a cow that died last year was infected with mad cow disease, a test the agency conducted seven months ago indicated that the animal had the disease. The result was never publicly disclosed.
The delay in confirming the United States' second case of mad cow disease seems to underscore what critics of the agency have said for a long time: that there are serious and systemic problems in the way the Agriculture Department tests animals for mad cow.
Indeed, the lengthy delay occurred despite the intense national interest in the disease and the fact that many countries have banned shipments of beef from the United States because of what they consider to be lax testing policies.
Kara e-mails to praise Seth Mydan's "After the Tsunami, Rebuilding Homes and Social Fabric:"
When the people of this fishing village rebuild their homes on their old foundations, they will live among a checkerboard of empty lots left by those who died in the tsunami six months ago Sunday.
"They will be blank," said Charul Amri, the village chief, describing the square patches of rubble or tile flooring that are all that remains of the fishermen's houses here on the coast of Aceh.
Eventually, he said, those plots will be claimed or bought, new neighbors will take the place of those who are gone, and Lambada Lhoke - where just 600 residents out of 1,700 survived - will come back to life.
And that's really about it to recommend. We wonder why Richard W. Stevenson writes a "White House Memo" (in today's paper) and Elisabeth Bumiller writes a "White House Letter?"
Is a "Memo" versus a "Letter" something decided by gender or aptitude? We don't know.
But having won a deserved award this weekend (BuzzFlash's GOP Hypocrite of the Week Award), you'd think the Times would give Bumiller her props. (We're proud of you Bumiller, you earned it.)
We'll note that Eli e-mailed regarding David Sirota's Sirotablog to inform that Sirota is on a break and that Matt Singer is filling in (Monday it will be Joel Barkin) and that David Sirota will return Tuesday. (The information on that comes via this entry.)
We'll note that we laughed over the illustration for this story. And what do you think the jutting pipe from the guy's crotch is supposed to subliminally make you think of? (It's not a Times illustration, it's a travel poster that we belive was put out by the Polish tourism bureau: Come to Poland, check out our . . . pipes.) (The Times caption reads: " A Polish ad features a model as a plumber who assures the French that he is staying in Poland (away from their jobs)." Yeah, jobs.) And will note the news from Lynn Waddell, Florida's Hillsborough County has come to the conclusion that they need to "abstain from acknowledging, promoting or participating" LBGT's.
While the Popes sport . . . pipes to increase their tourism, Hillsborough County says, "Back in the closests ye go! Hang thee head in shame, Hester! Hang thee head!" Bully Boy's America, welcome back to the Dark Ages.
We're sure Isaiah has his latest The World Today Just Nuts admist the 1,578 unread e-mails and we'll go through them to find it. But we're tired and we're in a silly mood (can you tell?) so it may take us a bit to find it.
The e-mail address for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org.
(And unlike last week, we completed the joint entry. As many of you pointed out, last week's joint entry ended mid-sentence. We were very tired, our apologies.)