Camilla Mortensen is the environmental reporter for the Eugene Weekly.
The FBI may be tapping your phone, monitoring the Internet, hanging out at environmental law conferences and a host of other things, but they deny they are investigating your falafel.
In a Nov. 2 issues of Congressional Quarterly it was alleged that there was plan for an FBI program to monitor the sales of Middle Eastern food products in the San Francisco Bay area in support of counterterrorism intelligence gathering.
Given that the Los Angeles Police Department recently called off a plan to create a map of LA's Muslim communities, the falafel plan doesn't sound all that far-fetched.
But a recent press-release from the FBI calls counterterrrorism managers Willie T. Hulon and Phil Muddâ€™s Involvement in the so-called â€œFalafel Investigation,â€ "too ridiculous to be true."
Falafel is no laughing matter to the feds. FBI assistant director of the Office of Public Affairs John Miller, says in his statement that he's setting the record straight on "something that touches on something so important as national security and civil liberties."
So rest assured Eugeneans, you can eat your falafel without fear of persecution. For now.
Calendar editor-Chuck gets notices of all the happening in town (and apparently insults that rhyme with his name), Molly gets books and music, the Teditor gets EVERYTHING and me, well my inbox fills up with . . . well, a lot of stuff thatâ€™s not really related to environmental reporting. Like yesterday, when I got a promo from a company called â€œDarf.â€ Darf is selling â€œFunagle: a board game people play with their dogs.â€
The goal of the game, I kid you not, is to get points for getting your dog to â€œdo an activity.â€ Like the Moonwalk. Thatâ€™s their example. Right. My dog can give me five, play dead and do basic math problems, but I can guarantee you, she canâ€™t Moonwalk. And she especially canâ€™t do the Moonwalk when trapped in a room with four other idiot dog owners forcing their dogs to play board games.
But the point is less that this game is silly, and more that I get silly things in my inbox.
Before I proceed with my kvetching, donâ€™t let this discourage you, by the way, from sending me story ideas. I love story ideas. I met a guy last week at a party in Seattle, who mentioned his recent grand jury subpoena. When I was clearly intrigued, he asked â€œif that interesting for a news story?â€
Yup. Grand juries often make a good news story.
Lately my email account seems to have been added to a list that promotes Christian books. Now, I find the Bible fascinating. But I draw the line at Christian pop-fiction. Maybe Iâ€™m a snob, but poorly written pop-culture books with Christian themes donâ€™t do it for me. And more importantly, pop-culture Christian books do not make environmental news. Not unless youâ€™re printing on some kind of ultra-cool recycled paper or creating toxic residues with your printing. . .
At any rate, Iâ€™m not really sure why someone out there thinks the enviro reporter for the Eugene Weekly wants to report on: When The Wedding Ring Comes Off by Percy D. Gorham, which lifts, â€œthe reader's faith as he points each mind to the sublime Holy Spirit in such a way people may not have known was possible.â€
Huh. Youâ€™d think a book about infidelity would be less about the holy and more about the bodily. . .
Well, anyway, Iâ€™m all for people finding the sublime. But the scariest press release I got this week was this one: Iraq in My Eye: Memoirs of a Navy SEAL in which Chuck Bravedy of Canton, Ohio proposes a new way to deal with prisoners in Iraq: â€œI see substantial ground being made if we pull all Korans out of the cells and replace them with Bibles,â€ he writes.
Bravedy was apparently disturbed by the way troops provided prisoners with the Koran (his spelling, I tend to go with Qurâ€™an) when they could be â€œindoctrinatingâ€ (his word choice) them by providing Bibles. Silly troops giving those darn Muslims freedom of religion. What are they thinking?
To quote directly from his press release: â€œBravedy's dream is to assemble a team and return to Iraq for a year to minister in military
prisons teaching the men there that there is more to life than killing Americans and eradicating western influence.â€
What was that old bumper sticker about the Army?
Thatâ€™s right: Join the Army: Travel to distant lands; meet exciting, unusual people and kill them.
Military bludgeoning with the Bible. Well, maybe there's a story in there after all.
There's nothing like taking a walk across the UO campus on a fall day. You can see students chatting on cell phones, drinking lattes and dashing to class. . .
and large hawks ripping the entrails out of squirrels.
In a little rare moment of Animal House meets Wild Kingdom UO students were treated this afternoon to watching a red tailed hawk swoop down and kill one of the ubiquitous red squirrels that scamper around campus. (Ok Animal House is an exaggeration, but it is a movie about college life AND it takes place on the UO campus).
Personally I was awed by this big cool wild bird devouring its prey. Many of the students seemed more horrified by the whole "that bird is eating a cute innocent little squirrel" thing. I pointed out to anyone interested that the squirrel is non-native fox squirrel, so really, our friend Mr. Hawk was doing us a favor.
Oregon wildlife note, little red squirrels = non-native = bad; greyish and red squirrels = non-native = bad; large silvery squirrels = native = good. In other words, please don't eat the big silvery ones.
Those who felt bad for the squirrel didn't seem comforted by the whole "it's ok to eat non-native species" argument. Mainly they were grossed out by the little bits of squirrel guts falling to the ground. The rest of us just admired the hawk. I'm pretty sure it was a red-tailed hawk as our trusty EW outdoors columnist whom I pestered via cell phone told me that peregrine falcons (my other guess) are both more rare, and, more importantly, not prone to squirrel consumption.
The squirrel killing incident happened in front of Lawrence Hall, so if you happen to notice some leftover entrails in the vicinity, just remember: red squirrel = non-native = bad.
Jonathan Paul, who pled guilty to conspiracy and arson involving the Cavel West horse slaughter plant has been given a report date of Oct. 31 to serve his 51 month sentence.
Paul was designated to FCI Phoenix, a medium security facility. Paul was not given the terrorism enhancement for his participation in the arson.
At his sentencing Paul, a firefighter, said his arson was motivated by "horror and despair" over the suffering of the horses killed for human consumption at the slaughterhouse. He expressed regret at using arson as a tactic and a desire to make amends.
Not all defendants in the Operation Backfire investigation have been designated yet to prisons. Defendants who have been designated, including Nathan "Exile" Block, who was sentenced to 7 years 8 months and received the enhancement, and Daniel McGowan, who also received the enhancement is currently at FCI Sandstone to begin his 7 year sentence. Both defendants are at low security prisons.
It is unclear why Paul, with a shorter sentence and no terrorism enhancement, has been designated medium security.
After more than a month, District Judge Michael Hogan has still not said when he intends to decide whether to release Pete Seda, who has been held at Lane County Jail since August 15.
Seda (also known as Pirouz Sedaghaty) is accused of tax fraud and conspiracy, but arguments about his release revolved around allegations of links to terrorists.
Seda was U.S. head of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, according to U.S. attorney Chris Cardani who argued strenuously to keep Seda jailed. Overseas offices of the foundation have been named â€œglobal centers of terrorism.â€
Seda, a dual U.S. and Iranian citizen, has not been accused of terrorism.
Sedaâ€™s attorneys have asked the court to give them until Dec. 14 to file pre-trial motions in the case. The deadline for such motions was Thursday. The case is not expected to go to trial until April.
Want to get to Rainie Falls (pictured on this week's cover ) and check out the salmon for yourself?
From Eugene, it's about 120 miles south, on I-5. Take exit 76 (Wolf Creek) which is 48 miles south of Roseburg. Drive half a mile to the Wolf Creek Tavern, turn off into town two blocks, go under a railroad overpass, then turn left, and follow this road for 15 miles. Just before the Grave Creek bridge, you'll turn right to a boat ramp and trail parking area.
Want to comment on the WOPR? The BLM has hired a company called "Daylight Decisions" (uh because clearcuts sure do make things brighter in the forest without all those darn trees in the way) to collect comments for them.
Oh yeah, and you can comments on the article itself right here, on EW's own blog.
Well, for hunting anyway. According to this weeks Oregon Department of Wildlife dispatch, if you want to hunt black bear: "A strategy for hunting them in the early morning and late evening hours is watching clear-cuts and natural openings."
If you are not an early-rising bear hunter sort of person, ODFW suggests, "long and persistent calling."
In case you didn't know, the way one "calls" a predator is by using, of course, a "predator call." For only $9.99 plus shipping and handling, you too can call a bear to you by playing a tape of a cub in distress."
And as long as you're hanging out in clearcuts, black tailed deer can also apparently be found in logged areas, says the ODFW. You're best bet is "to scout along older, brushed-in clearcut edges near bigger timber," they say. This of course assumes the BLM has left some bigger timber in the area.
And if you're just out for a hike, remember to wear orange, hunting accidents suck.
Greenhill Humane Society recently underwent a surprise inspection by a staff veterinarian from the Department of Agriculture. The shelter was given a rating of "good" out of "good," "fair" or "poor" in every category.
The inspection was in response to "complaints on animals (dogs) not being fed adequately."
According to the notes of Dan Jemelka, staff veterinarian for the Oregon Department of Health, "Dogs seem to be well fed â€” a few are thin, but seemed to be kennel stress."
"Stressed dogs are placed in outdoor runs for relief," he added, and some are taken to foster care if needed."
In an email announcing the inspection, Katie Dyer, Greenhill's director of marketing and development said: "Iâ€™m so proud of the work we do here at Greenhill, and itâ€™s so satisfying to have that work recognized."