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Launch the photo essay featuring the Chihuahuan Desert!
In the heart of North America’s largest desert lies a biological oasis—a little-known expanse of basin and range straddling both sides of the boundary between the United States and Mexico. The Chihuahuan Desert Borderlands, as it is called, is a sparsely populated 30- million-acre wilderness where barren lunarscapes, arid scrublands and cactus forests coexist with majestic canyons, lush grasslands and pine-oak woodlands.
To the abundant populations of year-round and migrating wildlife, the borderlands is a land without borders, a single ecosystem that rivals Greater Yellowstone in its biodiversity. Hundreds of species use the borderlands as a migratory megacorridor, including monarch butterflies, black bear and more than 10 species of hummingbirds. Populations of elk, pronghorn and desert bighorn sheep flourish as well.
Hovering several thousand feet above are sky islands—desert mountains whose peaks snag clouds and drain their moisture. These mountains nourish the region’s relict forests of oak and pine trees and isolated stands of Douglas fir and quaking aspen. This rich habitat is one reason why more than 400 bird species have been seen in the 800,000-acre Big Bend National Park—more than in any other national park in the United States.
The borderlands are the linchpin of one of North America’s most vital wildlife corridors. And yet the region is also the focus of plans that would fashion a barrier along the border, although it is difficult to imagine a more effective deterrent than the canyon walls that rise as high as 2,000 feet above the river.
While most of the discussion about fences has centered on urban areas, concern is being voiced about the potential impact barriers in more remote areas would have on wildlife. “The specter of any kind of barrier that would preclude the movements of native and migratory wildlife back and forth between the United States and Mexico causes us a great deal of consternation,” says Carter Smith, director of the Conservancy’s Texas chapter. Other, more conservation-friendly tactics should be considered in the Chihuahuan Borderlands, he says, such as vehicle barriers, surveillance technologies, and stepped-up border and aerial patrols.
Whatever the outcome, the Conservancy and partners plan to press ahead. “The borderlands is one landscape, irrespective of political boundaries,” says Smith. “We are participating in an extensive binational conservation effort.” Private land owners, agricultural cooperatives, corporations, governments and conservation groups have banded together to place more than 2 million acres on both sides of the border under some kind of protection. And more land is being added every year. Through their efforts, the borderlands remains one of the continent’s wildest places.
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Aurhor: Joe Nick Patoski
PBS’s Emmy Award winning show “New York Voices” went behind the scenes at the new musical In The Heights. The exclusive half-hour program introduced viewers to the cast and creative team of In The Heights, inviting them into the rehearsal hall, orchestra rehearsals, and on stage for the first Broadway performance of the new Broadway musical. Produced by Bob Morris and hosted by Rafael Pr Roman, “New York Voices.”
In The Heights opened Sunday, March 9, 2008, at Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre (226 West 46th Street). With music and lyrics by ASCAP’s 2007 Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, book by Quiara Alegría Hudes and conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda, In The Heights is directed by Joseph A. Callaway Award-winner Thomas Kail and choreographed by Outer Critics’ Circle, Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel and Joseph A. Callaway Award-winner Andy Blankenbuehler.
In The Heights star Andréa Burns, Janet Dacal, Robin De Jesús, Carlos Gomez, Mandy Gonzalez, Christopher Jackson, Priscilla Lopez, Olga Merediz, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Karen Olivo and Seth Stewart leading a cast of 27.
“In The Heights is a quintessential New York musical about a vibrant and tight-knit community at the top of the island of Manhattan. The music pulses with the hopes and dreams of three generations as they struggle to forge an identity in a neighborhood on the brink of transition,” describe press notes.
According to New York Daily News Some 50 singers and bands will raise the volume at the 52nd National Puerto Rican Day Parade, which this year is dedicated to Boricua music.
Leading the musical extravaganza is the king of the parade, romantic salsa superstar Víctor Manuelle, taking a break from his tour promoting his latest album, “Muy Personal.”
“On this day, we are one people, one homeland. We are connected from here to Puerto Rico via television, via telephone,” Manuelle said. “Everyone knows what happens at the Puerto Rican parade.”
Manuelle will be joined by Puerto Rican stars from a wide range of music genres, including multi-Grammy winners Olga Tañón, Eddie Palmieri and José Feliciano.
“The parade is a beautiful thing,” said Feliciano. “I’ve tried in my own way to represent the island with dignity, with pride, and that’s for me what it means to be Puerto Rican.”
Feliciano, 63, who will be riding in a convertible up Fifth Ave., will sing two classic numbers at the Daily News stage, “En Mi Viejo San Juan” and “La Borinqueña,” Puerto Rico’s national anthem.
The parade kicks off Sunday at 11 a.m. at Fifth Ave. and 44th St. and makes its way up to 86th St.
It is dedicated to the west coast Puerto Rican city of Mayagüez, which is sending a contingent of 2,000 people and five oxen-pulled carts.
David Bernier, president of the Puerto Rican Olympic Committee, who, Lugo said, has “dedicated his life to the mental health of youth,” was chosen as the national grand marshal.
Legendary radio personality Polito Vega, who marks 50 years on the air this year, is being honored as a parade godfather.
Other confirmed attendees are salsa singers Willie Colón and Gilberto Santa Rosa, reggaetonero Tito El Bambino and pop singer Lissette Álvarez.
“The biggest Hispanic music concert in New York City is the National Puerto Rican Day Parade,” boasted Carlos Velázquez, the parade’s marketing agent. “We have confirmed playing at the same time in the same place 46 orchestras.”
Organizers hope the added musical power will finally push the official attendance figures past the 3 million mark.
“Even though the [economic] situation is difficult, we Puerto Ricans always celebrate and always party.”
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President Obama on Tuesday nominated federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor on Tuesday calls her nomination to the high court “the most humbling honor of my life.”
Sotomayor, 54, would be the first Hispanic and third female U.S. Supreme Court justice if confirmed.
Obama announced the nomination Tuesday morning in the East Room of the White House.
She “has worked at almost every level of our judicial system, providing her with a depth of experience and a breath of perspective that will be invaluable as a Supreme Court justice,” he added.
Obama said Sotomayor ” would bring more experience on the bench and more varied experience on the bench than anyone currently serving on the United States Supreme Court had when they were appointed.”
Sotomayor, a judge on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, was named a U.S. District Court judge by President George H.W. Bush in 1992, and was elevated to her current seat by President Clinton.
Sotomayor, who is of Puerto Rican descent, rose from humble beginnings at a housing project in the South Bronx and went on to attend Princeton University and Yale Law School.
Supporters say her appointment history, along with what they call her moderate-liberal views, would give her some bipartisan backing in the Senate.
A senior White House official said that Sotomayor was “nominated by George Bush — then Bill Clinton — [and has] more judicial experience than anyone sitting on the court had at the time they were nominated.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, issued a statement calling Sotomayor’s record “exemplary.”
“Judge Sotomayor has a long and distinguished career on the federal bench,” Leahy said. “I believe [she] understands that the courthouse doors must be as open to ordinary Americans as they are to government and big corporations.”
Obama’s nominee will replace retiring Justice David Souter, who announced this month he would step down when the court’s current session ends this summer.
There had been wide speculation that Obama would name a woman to the court, which has one female justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Obama’s nomination will have to be confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate. The nominee is not expected to have difficulty being confirmed in the Democratic-controlled Senate in time for the new court session in October.
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‘If you live in America, you need to speak English.’ According to a Los Angeles Times Poll (1998), that was how three out of four voters explained their support for Proposition 227, the ballot initiative that dismantled most bilingual education programs in California.
Non- English speakers are at a disadvantage; thus schools must not fail to teach English to children from minority language backgrounds. Students’ life chances will depend to a large extent on the level of English literacy skills they achieve.
As the linguist Einar Haugen (1972) once observed, ‘America’s profusion of tongues has made her a modern Babel, but a Babel in reverse.’ By their third generation in the United States, newcomers have typically adopted English as their usual language and abandoned their mother tongue.
There is no reason to think the historic pattern has changed. Although
the number of minority language speakers has grown dramatically in
recent years, so too has their rate of acculturation. Census figures confirm the paradox. While a language other than English is now spoken at home by
nearly one in five US residents, bilingualism is also on the rise. A century
ago, the proportion of non-English speakers was 4.5 times as large as it is
today, and in certain states the disparity was considerably larger. As the US population becomes increasingly diverse, linguistic assimilation
seems to be progressing rapidly by historical standards. The political problem is that the average American has trouble believing all this. To see chart comparing non- English speakers in 1890 and 1990 click here.
An English-only movement based on these premises came to prominence
in the 1980s. Thus far it has succeeded in legislating English as the
official language of 25 states, although such declarations have been
primarily symbolic, with few legal effects thus far.
To counter the English-only mentality, advocates have coined the slogan English Plus. They argue that the United States remains an underdeveloped country where language skills are concerned. In a global economy, more multilingualism – not less – would clearly advance the national interest.
Some English-speaking parents have been receptive to the ‘bilingual is
beautiful’ pitch. Over the past decade, growing numbers have enrolled
their children in ‘dual immersion’ classrooms alongside minority children
learning English. Yet, despite excellent reports on this method of cultivating
fluency in two languages, probably no more than 20,000 English background
students are participating nationwide. Compare that with the324,000 Canadian Anglophones enrolled in French immersion programs, in a country with one-tenth the population of the USA (Statistics Canada, 2003).
Author: James Crawford
Source: Language Policy Website