For the love of libraries, antelopes and freedom

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On the Kenyan plains, only about 400 hirola antelope remain. And this African herd’s rescuers are also unique — a group of Chinese philanthropists who support environmental causes within China, but want to do more. The successful entrepreneurs are raising $15 million to create a nature preserve in Kenya — just in time, hopefully, to reverse the hirola’s demise.

On the Kenyan plains, only about 400 hirola antelope remain. And this African herd’s rescuers are also unique — a group of Chinese philanthropists who support environmental causes within China, but want to do more. The successful entrepreneurs are raising $15 million to create a nature preserve in Kenya — just in time, hopefully, to reverse the hirola’s demise.

The hirola, whose population has plummeted from nearly 15,500 in the 1970s, is genetically unique, representing an entire genus of its species. If they are not saved, these beautiful beasts, with dashing striped and spiraled horns, will be only the third such classified animal to go extinct in history. The kind Chinese businessmen, who wish to remain anonymous, will not stand idly by and watch that occur.

The usual — drought, poaching, loss of habitat and disease — has taken its toll. But one benefactor writes: “China’s economic rise has created a responsibility for the Chinese people to play a leading role in helping address the world’s environmental problems.” The hirola sanctuary will total 6,177 acres and employ numerous local rangers by spring.

One-hundred-sixty-seven men from 24 countries remain imprisoned at our Guantánamo, Cuba, military base, 11 years after the Twin Towers fell. Over half the prisoners have been repeatedly cleared for release by the Federal Court of Appeals, but the Obama administration — like the Bush before it, refuses to let them go home. The U.S. government also admits that 92 percent of these guys were never, ever terrorists. They were simply caught in a flustered and unfortunate dragnet.

Fifty-six of the mostly Muslim men are from Yemen, but because we fear al-Qaeda in Yemen, Washington refuses to obey either the court or international law. In addition, over one-quarter of Gitmo’s prisoners are “detained indefinitely,” with neither charge nor trial, by executive order — even though indefinite detention is illegal.

Sadly, nine Guantánamo detainees have died in jail — a few from suicide, some by hunger strike, and some from losing hope and heart. There are no family visiting rights in Gitmo. It seems none of the fellows have died from particularly old age. The latest victim is Adnan Latif, a Yemeni who was in Pakistan to have surgery in the fall of 2001.

Wrong place, wrong time, Latif! He was rounded up by U.S./NATO forces and shipped off to Cuba. Although not even remotely involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, Adnan rotted away, uncharged, in Gitmo, expiring there last month.

You can demand an end to this perpetual, irregular detention by writing Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder at: State Department, 2201 C St. NW, Washington, DC 20520 and Justice Department, 950 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington DC 20530.

  • Frequency of groundwater contamination incidents reported by New Mexico oil and gas producers prior to the 2008 “Pit Rule”: more than one per month
  • Number of contamination incidents reported since waste pits were lined and sealed four years ago: 0
  • Percentage of French citizens wanting to cut their country’s military spending: 73
  • Percentage who want to scrap France’s nuclear weapons: 81
  • Size cut in America’s nuclear arsenal recommended by former STRATCOM commander and Joint Chief of Staff James Cartwright: 80 percent
  • Number of United States troops stationed throughout the Pacific region: 330,000
  • Projected cost of General Dynamics’ new stealth naval destroyer: $6 billion each
  • Our armed services branch opposing the building of this ship: U.S. Navy
  • Cost of the previous model of Naval destroyer: $1.5 billion
  • Number of drone types to be based by the Defense Department at New Mexico Tech’s “re-purposed” Playas Training Center: Four
  • Number of dolphins found dead on Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana beaches since the BP oil spill: >700
  • Number of years since Earth’s carbon dioxide levels were this high: 800,000
  • Percentage increase in first quarter U.S. sales of hybrid/electric cars over last year: 49
  • Percentage of U.S. electricity now generated from coal: 36.7
  • Number of years since American coal-burning was this low: 39
  • Percentage of South Dakota’s electricity supplied by wind power: 22
  • Most atmospherically polluting fossil fuel: “fracked” natural gas
  • Fracked gas’ chief climate-changing component: methane, leaked at the wellhead
  • For every $500 the U.S. petroleum industry spends on oil production, how much is spent on the mandatory development of renewable fuels? Answer: $1
  • Number of American soldiers who died in World War I, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars combined: 634,338
  • Total number who perished in the Civil War alone: >620,000
  • Factor by which war-related civilian deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan’s border region exceed U.S. military fatalities there: 250 to 1

Words to the Wise: Following in the footsteps of venerable D/C columnist Ned Cantwell (Looking Askance, Oct. 13), I urge my readers to also approve Bond Issue B in November — New Mexico libraries’ longstanding general obligation bond. The cost to your household is only 56 cents per year! And what will your $0.56 bring Socorro? (Hang on to your hats:) $21,001 to our public school libraries! $26,070 to Socorro Public Library! And $44,486 for New Mexico Tech Library! Vote “yes” on Bond B for libraries!

Source material: Veterans for Peace, CVNM, Natural Resources Defense Council, GNAW, New Mexico Library Association, Sierra, Center for Constitutional Rights, China Daily News, and the U.S. Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee.

Albrecht is a San Antonio resident. She has written global affairs digests for New Mexican newspapers and journals for 14 years. Find her column on the last Saturday of each month in El Defensor Chieftain.