Borderlands Digest

Reading, Writing and Photography about

Justice, the Environment, Chaos,

and Cooperation in North America.

January 6, 2022

Craig Rock, editor and photographer,

All images and writings copyrighted by the editor unless otherwise noted.

Use above email for permission to use material for non-commercial use.

What is Borderlands Digest?

Welcome to the online journal Borderlands Digest. This site is designed for teachers, journalists, community organizers, social justice groups and others who are focused on improving the quality of life in their communities. Stories, poems, and photographs center on the environment and people in the culturally diverse communities of North America. Most writings and photos will be about areas that I have researched, lived in, or traveled to over the last 50 years. My job experience, education, and volunteer work narrows my focus to the environment, criminal justice, and immigration. I realized this journal can't cover every aspect of these three important challenges. I beg your participation in providing related examples of challenges and solutions that you've come across in your community or in your research. Please share this website with others. We have a short period of time before a possible change of administration. In my opinion, these are three specific failures that we should examine in the coming months:

  • The failure of lawmakers to regulate businesses that pollute our air and water.

  • The failure of lawmakers to control gun violence including killings by criminals, the mentally ill, and the police.

  • the failure of our country to grant citizenship to the 800,000 young people who are temporarily protected from deportation by DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

Use the email that follows to subscribe to this free publication. Articles, poetry and photos are welcome. For consideration, send your work to me at See examples of the community and student projects that I have been involved with by clicking the "About" link at the top of this page.

Table of Contents

Page 1 (Home) Artic Report Card; What's Polluting the Air?; Covid and Clean Air; Two Democrats Kill Mining Law Reforms; Agreement to Protect NY's Water; Corporations and Community; Citizens Divided (poem); Getting Involved with workers' rights.

Page 2 Poems by David Bolton; ProPublica's Local Reporting Network; Promoting Change on the Local Level; Update from Everytown for Gun Safety.

Page 3 Killers of Journalists getting away with Murder; Once a Safe-haven now What; Rise of Government Censorship in Hollywood, Less We Forget about Child Labor; Pablo Neruda, Hero of the Americas.

Page 4 Environmental/Justice Links, Page 5 About his website.

A NOAA Press Release (edited) December 9,2021

NOAA's 2021 Arctic Report

(Editor's Note: Please watch the above video (4 minutes) if possible. The first paragraph is from NOAA's Executive Committee. The itemized findings follow. [CR-Borderlands Digest])

“The Arctic story is a human story,....We all have a role to play in creating

the best possible outcomes for the region, its residents and all the citizens

of the globe who depend on the Arctic as a critical component of our Earth system.”

Twila Moon, an Arctic scientist with the National Snow and Ice Data Center

Executive Summary

As the influences of human-caused global warming continue to intensify, with the Arctic warming significantly faster than the globe overall, the 2021 Arctic Report Card (ARC2021) brings a broad view of the state of the Arctic climate and environment. The ARC2021 provides an update on seven Arctic Vital Signs, from sea ice to snow and air temperatures to tundra greenness, and checks in on three Indicator topics for updates on river discharge, ocean acidification, and observations of substantial Arctic beaver expansion. The noteworthy emerging topics in the four ARC2021 Frostbites—marine debris, marine noise, food access during the COVID-19 pandemic, and glacier and permafrost hazards—share a common link as they look at the impacts of more people and human activity in the Arctic as well as the challenges and hazards people face with the rapidly changing cryosphere. The scientific and observational story of the Arctic is a human story—of climate change, of increased shipping and industrial activity, and of communities responding to local and regional disruptions.

Some of this year’s significant findings include:

  • The October-December 2020 period was the warmest Arctic autumn on record dating back to 1900. The average surface air temperature over the Arctic this past year (October 2020-September 2021) was the 7th warmest on record. The Arctic continues to warm more than twice as fast as the rest of the globe.

  • The snow-free period across the Eurasian Arctic during summer 2020 was the longest since at least 1990. June 2021 snow cover in Arctic North America was below the long-term average for the 15th consecutive year. June snow cover in Arctic Europe has been below average 14 of the last 15 years.

  • Following decades of relative stability, the Greenland ice sheet has now lost mass almost every year since 1998, with record ice loss in 2012 and 2019. In August, rainfall was observed at the Greenland ice sheet’s 10,500-foot summit for the first time ever.

  • The volume of post-winter sea ice in the Arctic Ocean in April 2021 was the lowest since records began in 2010. The amount of older, biologically important multiyear sea ice at the end of summer 2021 was the second-lowest since records began in 1985.

  • The total extent of sea ice in September 2021 was the 12th lowest on record. All 15 of the lowest minimum extents have occurred in the last 15 years. The substantial decline in Arctic ice extent since 1979 is one of the most iconic indicators of climate change.

  • The loss of sea ice has enabled shipping and other commercial and industrial activities to push deeper into the Arctic, in all seasons, resulting in more garbage and debris collecting along the shore and more noise in the ocean, which can interfere with the ability of marine mammals to communicate.

  • Some of the fastest rates of ocean acidification around the world have been observed in the Arctic Ocean. Two recent studies indicate a high occurrence of severe dissolution of shells in natural populations of sea snails, an important forage species, in the Bering Sea and Amundsen Gulf.

“The Arctic story is a human story,” said Twila Moon, an Arctic scientist with the National Snow and Ice Data Center, and one of three editors of the 2021 Arctic Report Card. “We all have a role to play in creating the best possible outcomes for the region, its residents and all the citizens of the globe who depend on the Arctic as a critical component of our Earth system.”

Click below to:

Read NOAA's 2021 Arctic Report Card and watch the video summary.

Photos on this page by Craig Rock unless noted.

A ProPublica Report - December 16, 2021 (This story was originally published by ProPublica, Click here for their story link.)

What’s Polluting the Air? Not Even the EPA Can Say.

Despite the high stakes for public health, the EPA relies on emissions data it knows to be inaccurate. To expose toxic hot spots, we first had to get the facts straight.

by Ava Kofman

For decades, a factory on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon, has churned out hulking metal parts for Boeing’s commercial airplanes. Despite the steady pulse of its machinery, the plant maintains a low profile; Oregonians more readily associate Boeing with its historic headquarters up north in Seattle. Perhaps, I reasoned last spring, this helped explain why no one had noticed that the company’s satellite campus seemed to have unleashed an environmental catastrophe.

In 2016, Boeing reported to the Environmental Protection Agency that it had massively ramped up the amount of chromium compounds it was pumping into the skies of eastern Portland. For anyone who followed Erin Brockovich’s crusade against the dangerous chemical in Hinkley, California, this should have come as alarming news. Hexavalent chromium, as the highly toxic form of the metal is known, can cause lung, nasal and sinus cancers, trigger pulmonary congestion and abdominal pain, and damage the skin, eyes, kidneys and liver. Although it is widely used in the aerospace industry to protect plane parts from corrosion, hexavalent chromium is such a potent carcinogen that in 2004 Boeing’s own environmental newsletter acknowledged that “it would be most desirable to eliminate the offending agent” altogether.

Read the full report by click here on sub page

or read the report and see graphs - click on ProPublica's link

Calico Basin Red Rock near Las Vegas NV

Covid and Clean Air

by Dr. Joanne Leovy

Las Vegas, Nevada: Covid-19 presents many questions. Among the most vexing, why are some people asymptomatic or mildly ill while others develop severe disease? In the absence of a cure, can we predict who might require hospitalization, need ventilation or die? Can anything help to reduce the risk of severe illness in the absence of a highly effective treatment or vaccine?

Epidemiologic analyses clearly show that Covid-19 more severely impacts older people, men, and those with obesity, heart disease and immune-compromising conditions. A combination of health and social factors likely increase the risk in communities of color. Another fascinating and potentially modifiable factor is exposure to air pollution.

Air pollution causes myriad health problems. The strongest evidence implicates two pollutants emitted primarily from vehicle tailpipes and fossil fuel combustion, ground level ozone and fine particulates. These pollutants cause acute and chronic respiratory, cardiovascular, perinatal and neurologic problems. Ground level ozone and fine particulate pollution cause reversible lung function impairment, airway inflammation and leaky blood vessels. Long term ozone exposure is linked to an increased risk for ARDS, the form of lung failure common in Covid-19 patients. Because ozone forms in sunny and hot conditions, it is a major pollutant in Las Vegas and Reno in the summer. Particulates raise lung levels of IL-6 and other cytokines believed to be major drivers of the hyper-inflammatory response seen in seriously ill Covid-19 patients. A 12 year study of 60 million U.S. Medicare recipients demonstrated substantially increased mortality in people who lived in areas of either high ozone or high particulate pollution. A 2019 study estimated that Nevada has 97 excess deaths and nearly $900 million in health costs due to air pollution.

What is the link to Covid-19 disease? At least two studies now show a tantalizing correlation between high levels of fine particulates and high levels of Covid-19. A preliminary Italian survey revealed that the highest concentration of fine particulates are in the same region of Northern Italy that had catastrophic numbers Covid-19 infections, raising an interesting hypothesis. An April 2020 study from Harvard shows a clear trend between cases per million residents and fine particulate pollution. Pollution-related pre-existing health conditions and acute inflammation could play a role in a higher Covid-19 burden. Other data suggests increased virus transmission areas with particulate pollution as some viruses can bind to fine particulates in the air and travel distances.

Reducing pollution quickly improves health. Both short and long term studies show mortality reduction with modest measures to clean the air. Technologies available now including higher fuel efficiency and electric vehicles, non-fossil electricity and energy efficiency have the potential to save many lives. A 2019 study estimated that just electrifying factories and industrial facilities that burn coal or oil, and replacing residential wood stoves with electric heat would cut particulate pollution enough to cut the pollution-related death rate in half, and would save much more money in health costs than the cost of transition. A small bright light in the pandemic has been the clearer skies across many cities as people ceased much of their travel. A recent study in China estimated that 77,000 fewer people died during the mandatory shutdown due to reduced air pollution. Perhaps our Nevada experience of unusually clean skies in March and April will lend support to efforts to work for cleaner air. Clean air saves lives. ( For article references open Word file on the bottom of this page.

(There are some issues that divide us and some that bring us together. For example, affordable housing, adequate health care and food, a decent education, clean air to breathe, and safe water to drink are issues that bring many people together. This poem was "inspired" by forces that tear us apart.)

Citizens Divided

by Craig Rock

how do you write a poem

about living:

in the “richest” country

in the world

so many burying their futures

in daily funerals

ideals rest in peace,

forever? maybe

instead stuffing dollars

in mattresses or off-shore accounts

stuffing dreams

in black holes way back

in the mind, in the soul.

in the most “organized” country

in the world

power centered

black, not so black, white, not so white,

progressive, liberal, conservative, far right

radical, not so radical, not interested,

straight, gay, mixed

young, not so young, old, not so old,

God, no god, many gods

citizens divided.

in the “freest” country

in the world

if you can afford it

concealed or disguised

in mansions, mini-mansions,

gated and guarded

five-star restaurants

great hospitals

grand universities

if you can afford it

if not

one will be appointed

your choice of chains

high rents or endless mortgages

on homes or student loans

slums or prisons

and don't even mention

iPhones with invisible leashes,

video games that keep

eyes, fingers, and minds


into the middle of the night

awake or asleep, no matter

bumper to bumper traffic

on our streets, sidewalks

and commercial TV.

in our long waiting lines

with too many

too quick

to shoot

in so many different


and its all “free.”

citizens divided.

how do you write

a poem about that?

Exhibit at Library of Congress

Less We Forget About Child Labor

Social Justice has come a long way since the early 1900s. Note the young age of coal mine workers in the first couple rows of this 1911 Lewis Hine photograph. The Library of Congress (LOC) reports that Hine was an "investigative photographer for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC). He documented working and living conditions of children in the U.S. between 1908 and 1924. NCLC photos are useful for the study of labor, reform movements, children, working class families, education, public health, housing conditions, industrial and agricultural sites.....

The collection consists of more than 5,100 photographic prints and 355 glass negatives, given to the Library of Congress, along with the NCLC records, in 1954 by Mrs. Gertrude Folks Zimand, acting for the NCLC in her capacity as chief executive.

Background and Scope

Founded in 1904, the National Child Labor Committee set out on a mission of "promoting the rights, awareness, dignity, well-being and education of children and youth as they relate to work and working." Starting in 1908, the Committee hired Lewis W. Hine (1874-1940), first on a temporary and then on a permanent basis, to carry out investigative and photographic work for the organization. The more than 5,100 photographic prints and 355 glass negatives in the Prints and Photographs Division's holdings, together with the often extensive captions that describe the photo subjects, reflect the results of this early documentary effort, offering a detailed depiction of working and living conditions of many children--and adults--in the United States between 1908 and 1924. ( LOC Article continues on page 3)

Dead Horse Point looking at the Colorado River near Moab, Utah.

Two Democrats Kill Mining Law Reforms in Natural Resources Senate Committee

The nearly 150-year old law (1872) allows mining companies to extract resources like copper and lithium royalty-free.

Read about in High Country News, click here

Earth Justice Press Release December 23, 2021

Agreement to Protect New York's Water

Victory: New law will establish the most comprehensive drinking water testing and notification program for PFAS in the country

ALBANY, N.Y. — Today, clean water advocates applauded Governor Hochul for signing A.126-A/S.1759-A, which will inform New Yorkers about what’s in their water. The bill was sponsored by Senator James Skoufis and Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried.

The Governor and the State Legislature also agreed to changes to the bill which will go into effect next year. The agreement establishes New York’s first list of emerging contaminants. Every water utility across the state will be required to test for those contaminants and notify the public if dangerous levels are found.

Over the last several years, drinking water contamination events across New York have revealed the need for comprehensive, statewide drinking water testing. Cancer-causing PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” have been detected at dangerous levels in Hoosick Falls, Newburgh, Petersburgh, Rockland County, Poestenkill, and dozens of communities on Long Island.

The agreement reached today will mean:

  • 23 PFAS will be included on the New York State (NYS) Department of Health’s (DOH) first list of emerging contaminants, which will be published next year.

  • 14 other toxic chemicals, including four PFAS, will be included on DOH’s second emerging contaminant testing list, unless vetoed by DOH and the NYS Drinking Water Quality Council.

  • DOH will be required to update the list and add new contaminants at least once every three years.

Before testing can begin, DOH must set notification levels for the 23 PFAS identified as emerging contaminants. If a contaminant exceeds its notification level in drinking water, the public must be informed of it. Advocates are now urging DOH to set the lowest and most health-protective notification level for each PFAS. There is no known safe level of PFAS in drinking water.

To read the complete press release and get on to the Earth Justice website, click here

Corporations and Communities

"those who pillage and run...

those who settle"

edited by Craig Rock

As corporations outsource our good jobs, and buy up our lands, our public buildings, and even our prisons, our attachment to places in the West is threatened. Wendell Berry is one of the leading advocates in protecting "places" and reminding us of their value in life.

If you get a chance, listen or read one of the many Wendell Berry talks on Youtube, including the "The Contrariness of the Mad Farmer." Berry has a knack of applying local history and a sense of place to today’s most important challenge: impersonal corporations versus the individual and community. Here’s a snippet of his talk that will hopefully interest people with diverse political perspectives.

“My effort to make sense of this memory and its encompassing history has depended on a pair of terms used by my teacher, Wallace Stegner. He thought rightly that we Americans, by inclination at least, have been divided into two kinds: “boomers” and “stickers.” Boomers, he said, are “those who pillage and run,” who want “to make a killing and end up on Easy Street,” whereas stickers are “those who settle, and love the life they have made and the place they have made it in.” “Boomer” names a kind of person and ambition that is the major theme, so far, of the history of the European races in our country...The boomer is motivated by greed, the desire for money, property, and therefore power.

.... Stickers, on the contrary, are motivated by affection, by such love for a place and its life that they want to preserve it and remain in it.

Of my grandfather, I need to say only that he shared in the virtues and the faults of his kind and time, one of his virtues being that he was a sticker. He belonged to a family who had come to Kentucky from Virginia, and who intended to go no farther. He was the third in his paternal line to live in the neighborhood of our little town of Port Royal, and he was the second to own the farm where he was born in 1864 and where he died in 1946.”

Why Get Involved in Workers' Rights -

It's All Connected

by Craig Rock

(Above) Blue Blaze Mining Town near Price Utah, Workers Coming Home, Dorothea Lange, 1936, Library of Congress

The 1970s was a time of great hope - including hope that we should not and would not continue supporting dictators - dictators who arrested, tortured, and even murdered those who spoke out for civil and worker rights. Jimmy Carter was elected president. The words “human rights” became popular. And as you walked the streets of Berkeley, you could hear the words, daily chants, “El pueblo unido, jamas sera vencido.” The people united, will never be defeated. And today, for the most part, our country no longer supports dictators around the world.

However, we still face a similar challenge with some employers who rule over the lives of their workers through the use of fear, so they do not complain about unfair working conditions or harassment, so they accept wages insufficient for a reasonable standard of living, and a health insurance plan inadequate for decent medical, vision, and dental care.

Younger generations may have hoped for some resolution of these economic justice challenges in the early 1990s when the Cold War ended with the breakup of the Soviet Union. All the funds allocated to that war could now be spent on housing, hunger, and health care. But the military industrial complex found other wars and weapons to spend trillions of dollars on. Even today as our country leaves a major engagement with the Taliban and ISIS in Afghanistan, Congress approved the highest defense budget ever, even more than requested by the Biden administration.

We can only hope that some day society will not look the other way when it comes to a humane standard of living for everyone, not based on the size of a person’s fortune but on the mere fact that we all are human beings on the planet together for a relatively short time.

(Below) Lunch time for Peach Pickers, Muscella Georgia, Dorothea Lange, 1936, Library of Congress

(Above) Near Genoa in northern Nevada.

(Above photo) Kolob region of Zion National Park, Utah. Entrance off US 15 and a good way to avoid the summer crowds of Zion. (Photo below) Looking out from the Molson "Ghost town" in central Washington state near the Canadian border. A Molson Beer family member was one of its founders.

(Above photo) A-maze-ing Laughter is a 2009 bronze sculpture by Yue Minjun, located in Morton Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Wikipedia. (Below) Wall of Books Mural near downtown Salt Lake City, UT, created by artist Paul Heath, who describes his work as “Pop-Nostalgia.”

(Below) The March for our Lives event in Tucson 2018, centering on gun safety and violence.

Borderlands Digest

Reading, Writing and Photography about

Justice, the Environment, Chaos,

and Cooperation in North America

Home Page Page 2 Page 3 Links About