Ancient Native American burial site blasted for Trump border wall construction

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

Ancient Native American burial site blasted for Trump border wall construction

Crews have been blasting the hillside at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona for sections of the federal government’s barrier.
Gates in the border wall for flooding.

Border wall construction last month up a mountain in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona.Carolyn Van Houten / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

By Erik Ortiz

Red-lettered signs warning of “BLASTING” began appearing over the past week at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a remote desert region in southwestern Arizona bordered by Mexico to the south and a Native American reservation to the east.

Crews have been blasting the hillside while excavators and backhoes clear a path for the towering sections of border wall fast-tracked by the Trump administration — a pace that has environmental groups worried that sacred burial sites and ancestral lands are at risk of being irreversibly harmed.

Laiken Jordahl@LaikenJordahl

BLAST WARNING SIGNALS sign & dead saguaros at Organ Pipe as the Trump administration blows up a sacred mountain for the .

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Since 1976, the 516-square-mile park — home to more than two dozen unique species of cacti and countless wildlife — has been recognized as a UNESCO ecological preserve worth conserving.

“This is a new low even for the Trump administration,” said Laiken Jordahl, a borderlands campaigner for the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity in Arizona who has been documenting the altered landscape.

“They’re moving forward with complete disregard of sacred sites and indigenous sovereignty,” Jordahl said Wednesday.

The controlled blasting, which has taken place in a section of the park known as Monument Hill, is expected to continue intermittently through the end of February, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement. The agency added that it will “continue to have an environmental monitor present during these activities as well as on-going clearing activities.”

With this latest spurt in construction, Jordahl and others say they’re concerned with how the federal government has gone about building the wall — without any consultation with the Tohono O’odham Nation, a federally recognized tribe that has land and members on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Trump administration has used federal waivers, including of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, to push the project ahead.

Despite lawsuits trying to halt the government’s actions, Jordahl said the process involving Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument has been made easier precisely because the area is federally controlled land.

“It’s such a sensitive area environmentally, and it’s heartbreaking to see that what’s happening is because the government controls it because it’s so fragile,” he said. “It’s become a true desecration of indigenous land.”

Since last August, crews began replacing already-existing fencing with a steel bollard wall design.

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., whose district includes the tribe’s reservation, toured the area last month and highlighted in a video tweeted Sunday that Monument Hill is a resting place for Apache warriors that once did battle with members of the Tohono O’odham Nation. In addition, activists have shared images on social media of ancient saguaro cactuses, many hundreds of years old, either sawed in half or flattened.

Maxie Adler@maxie_adler

Photos from yesterday of construction in Organ Pipe Cactus NM and the heartbreaking graveyard that’s being left in its tracks. New 30ft wall now stretches almost completely from the base of Monument Hill to just 9 miles east of Quitobaquito Springs..

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Bulldozing is also occurring at the park’s Quitobaquito Springs, a natural source of water for the tribe and near where artifacts and human bone fragments have been found, Grijalva said.

“The Trump Administration is bulldozing through sacred sites to act on a campaign talking point, no matter the cost to the people of Southern Arizona,” the congressman told NBC News in a statement. “This destruction of the cultural heritage of the Tohono O’odham people for the purpose of building a monument to his racist policies is irreparable.”

Grijalva said he is working with the Tohono O’odham Nation to demand the Department of Homeland Security “stop this assault on sacred sites.”

The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The federal waivers it requested last year were vague in describing how many miles are needed and the locations for the border wall project, according to The Associated Press, although the Center for Biological Diversity said it estimates the plans include about 100 miles in Arizona and California along the southern border.

The wall’s construction has become a central theme of President Donald Trump’s immigration policy. During his State of the Union speech earlier this month, he said more than 500 miles of barriers would be up by early next year.

The Tohono O'odham Nation's reservation includes 62 miles of border between Arizona and Mexico.
The Tohono O’odham Nation’s reservation includes 62 miles of border between Arizona and Mexico.Megan Siquieros

His pledge hasn’t come without a fight from property owners opposed to surrendering their lands to the federal government.

Last fall, the administration began a new approach — preparing to go through federal courts for permission to take over private lands. The move followed Trump’s declaration a year ago of a national emergency along the border, a controversial executive action that was done to free up billions of dollars to fund new border wall projects.

The Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, which borders Mexico for 30 miles, is among the places that have come under scrutiny.

The park was once considered one of the most dangerous in the U.S. and favored by drug smugglers, officials said. In 2002, a park ranger was fatally shot while trying to apprehend two people who were crossing illegally. But with the number of illegal crossings down in recent years, a portion of the park that was once closed to the public was reopened in 2015.

The Tohono O’odham Nation says it is troubled over the future of other sacred sites along the border, including at Las Playas, where a roadway could be built near known ancestral burial grounds containing artifacts dating back some 10,000 years.

Ned Norris Jr., the chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation, told The Arizona Republic in January that he wants to see “buffer zones” set up around those sensitive areas.

“How would you feel if someone brought a bulldozer to your family graveyard and started uprooting the graves there?” he asked. “That is the relationship, the significance, that is the impact that we see happening here in that way.”

7 Best Botanical Gardens in the U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

7 Best Botanical Gardens in the U.S.

What do you do if you want to enjoy the beauty of blooming flowers, trees and plants, but you don’t have much of a green thumb? Do you struggle to plant your own garden with varying levels of success? Or do you opt to just visit a gorgeous botanical garden and leave the planting and horticulture to the experts? If you’re team B, who wants nothing to do with potting soil and toiling away in the yard, then you need to add these seven botanical gardens to your must-see list.

New York Botanical Gardens (The Bronx, NY)

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To be fair, there are two botanical gardens in New York City, the other being the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. But the city’s official garden is in the borough that’s home to hip-hop and the Yankees — the Bronx. The New York Botanical Gardens (NYBG) spreads over 250 acres with indoor and outdoor exhibits. It is also an official historic landmark. Depending on the time of year that you visit, you can catch some beautiful seasonal exhibits. Over the winter holidays, the NYBG puts on its annual model train show. In the spring months, you can visit the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden where over 650 varieties are in bloom. An added bonus, the New York Botanical Gardens are literally across the street from the Bronx Zoo, which makes for a wonderful day trip on the 2 train.

Desert Botanical Garden (Phoenix, AZ)

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Does anything bloom in the desert? The answer is yes, and you can find out exactly what kind of plants thrive in the beautiful Desert Botanical Garden located in Phoenix, Arizona. The garden is nestled in the Papago Buttes within the Sonoran Desert. You can check out more than 50,000 plants spread across the garden’s 140 acres. This particular botanical garden focuses on plant life that you would find in desert conditions. Be sure to check their calendar for seasonal events as the Desert Botanical Garden also serves as a live event space for concerts and performing arts.

Missouri Botanical Gardens (St. Louis, MO)

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If you prefer places with historical significance, then the Missouri Botanical Gardens is the perfect spot. This particular botanical garden opened its doors in 1859 and is the oldest continuous operating garden in the United States. The garden is set on 79 acres and features a variety of interesting exhibits. Enjoy a stroll through one of the nation’s largest Japanese gardens, on 14-acres. You can also visit their year-round domed Climatron greenhouse without columns that houses a lush tropical rainforest. Fun fact, the Missouri Botanical Gardens is the second largest botanical garden in North America, second only to the Bronx’s New York Botanical Gardens.

United States Botanic Garden (Washington, D.C.)

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While the Missouri Botanical Gardens is considered the oldest operating U.S. botanical garden, the United States Botanic Garden is also quite old. Established in 1820, this garden was actually designated as part of the National Mall. Although the United States Botanic Garden isn’t one of the largest in the nation, it’s a great way to take a break when you’re exhausted from the museums and monuments. The garden is home to 60,000 various plant species, including several that are endangered.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden (Dallas, TX)

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Where can you see 17 specialty gardens in one place? If you guessed Texas, you’re right! This garden sits on 66 acres and features a variety of gardens and walking paths. The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is home to some very fun and festive-themed seasonal exhibits. For example, during the fall, they create a Pumpkin Village that incorporates over 90,000 pumpkins and 150,000 fall blooms.

Longwood Gardens (Kennett Square, PA)

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If you happen to take a trip to Philadelphia, then it’s worth making a slight detour to visit Longwood Gardens. This massive botanical garden is located a short hour outside of Philadelphia and boasts an impressive list of indoor and outdoor gardens as well as gorgeous lily pad ponds. The Longwood Gardens were created by the magnate Pierre Du Pont as a sort of homage to the gardens of Versaille. In the winter you can stick to the four and a half acres of indoor gardens. But in the summer, be sure not to miss their weekly illuminated fountain and fireworks displays that take place every weekend.

International Rose Test Garden (Portland, OR)

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If you like only one particular kind of flower and that flower happens to be a rose, then Portland’s International Rose Test Garden should be on the top of your list. Did you know that Portland is actually nicknamed the City of Roses? And once you stroll through this beautiful garden, it will all make sense. The International Rose Test Garden began as a sanctuary for European roses to grow in safety during World War I. Today, the garden still serves as a research facility where breeders send their seeds. The rose garden is home to more than 650 species of roses and can sometimes offer as many as 10,000 bushes in bloom during the prime season.

So, the next time you have an urge to enjoy the beauty of mother nature, you don’t have to run to your local home improvement store. Ditch the gardening gloves and terra cotta planters and hit the road. There are plenty of beautiful gardens across the nation where you can enjoy nature and leave green thumbs to the pros.

3 Desert Destinations to Relax In

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Desert Destinations to Relax In

Deserts are an excellent place to take some time for yourself. Sparsely inhabited spaces, breathtaking sights, and warm climates will all help you unwind. Here are three desert destinations where you can relax.

Joshua Tree, California

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This quirky town is located a couple of hours outside of Los Angeles and is a high-desert refuge for artists and free thinkers. It is also the entry point to Joshua Tree National Park. While many desert destinations are defined by their general emptiness, Joshua Tree National Park is celebrated for the great abundance of interesting things.

The park gets its name from the trees that are found almost everywhere. Joshua trees appear to have come to life from the illustrations of a Dr. Seuss book. The ubiquity of the trees and the many interestingly shaped boulders and other natural rock structures give the park an otherworldly appeal.

Joshua Tree is also a haven for rock climbing, if your idea of relaxing involves climbing to the top of a boulder or a cliff face. In addition, extensive trail systems let you wander the park and see the unique ecosystem where the Colorado and Mojave deserts meet. There are also multiple campsites where you can sleep under the stars and enjoy the eerie landscape in the dark.

Sedona, Arizona

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If you prefer your desert oasis to have a bit more infrastructure, head to Sedona. This town, just 30 miles south of Flagstaff, is known for the striking red sandstone rock formations that surround it. Sedona is also at the center of hundreds of miles of trails for use by runners, bikers, and hikers.

Sedona first came to prominence as the center of the Sedona spiritual vortexes, or natural lines of electromagnetic energy. While the Sedona spiritual vortexes may not be for everyone, learning about the history of the phenomenon can be a fun, different way to relax on your trip.

Fine dining and vegan options can be found in town alongside luxurious accommodations. Sedona’s deep desert location can make it a tough sell during the summer months, when temperatures are regularly in the 90s. However, it is an excellent fall destination, when temperatures drop to a much more comfortable level.

Moab, Utah

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The small town of Moab may not have the same luxuries that Sedona offers, but the desert surroundings more than make up for this. The biggest draws are the nearby Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.

Arches National Park is to the north of Moab and is adjacent to the town. Here you will find over 2,000 natural stone archways formed over centuries of erosion. About five miles south of Moab is Canyonlands National Park, a desert destination divided into four distinct areas by the intersection of the Green River and the Colorado River. The Island in the Sky Mesa allows for panoramic views of the surrounding desert. The Needles section of the park will let you visit impressive sandstone spires.

Moab doesn’t deliver relaxing desert activities only from inside the nearby parks, however. Within proximity of the city, you will also find spots where you can mountain bike, raft, and camp. No matter how you prefer to relax in the desert, you will find a way to do so in Moab.

5 Fastest Growing U.S. Cities

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

Fastest Growing U.S. Cities

For jobs, lifestyle choices, weather, cost of living, retirement — you name it — we’re moving a lot. Using census data, trends surveys rely on myriad criteria and methodology to determine the fastest growing areas, often breaking down information based on small, medium and large cities. Not to mention use of precise definitions for metropolitan statistical areas, metropolitan divisions and so on. Confused yet? Not to worry. The overall trends are driven by a few easy to understand factors.

People are still moving to take jobs in coastal tech hubs. Then there are inland cities growing due to “tech dislocation,” places with rapid tech sector growth due to the exodus of workforces from more expensive cities. Another huge factor is retirement (think Florida and Arizona). Note that the cities on this list are all large, and made the top five based on pure volume of growth. Meanwhile, many small and medium cities had a higher percentage of growth. Based solely on overall growth numbers released in May by the United States Census Bureau, the five fastest growing cities in the country are highlighted below.

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles, California

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Perhaps the poster child for urban sprawl, Los Angeles grew by 18,643 people since the last annual count, for a total 2017 population of 3,999,759. That’s just over 50 people per day. With a mild year-round climate of near-perpetual sun, weather has to be one of the biggest enticements for new residents. The Southern California mega-city has long been a draw for free spirits, artists and aspiring actors, along with being a domestic melting pot with large Hispanic and Asian populations. Hollywood, the center of the television and film industry in the U.S., accounts for much of the city’s industry, along with the music biz.

Fort Worth, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

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With its recent growth, Fort Worth has overtaken Indianapolis, Indiana, to become the 15th largest city in the country. For a city that started as a trading post for cowboys at the end of the Chisholm Trail, Fort Worth has come a long way. The city in North Central Texas grew by 18,644 for a total population of 874,168. Cowboy heritage is retained here, where the Fort Worth Stockyards are still home to some of the nation’s largest rodeo events, and the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honors early pioneers. It’s not all about country culture, however, as this metropolitan city is home to international art institutes like the Kimbell Art  Museum. Considering a move or visit to Fort Worth? A great resource is the city’s website, fortworthtexas.gov.

Dallas, Texas

Dallas, Texas

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Long the commercial and cultural hub of north Texas, Dallas is a modern metropolis sprouted from western roots. After all, the city’s NFL franchise is called the Cowboys. The culture and charm of Dallas — which grew by 18,935 to an overall population of 1,341,075 — are highlighted by the Lake and Garden district in East Dallas (parks, lakes, an arboretum and gardens), Deep Ellum (a former warehouse district turned nightlife hotspot), the Arts District (largest urban arts district in the nation, in the core of downtown) and Highland Park (high-end shopping and dining in North Dallas). Potential Dallas transplants and visitors will find great information at the visitdallas.com.

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Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona

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The capital of Arizona, Phoenix grew by 24,036 residents to reach a population of 1,626,078. Retirement and the resort lifestyle are keys to the area’s growth, with aging baby boomers flocking for year-round sun and warmth. Ritzy resort spas and world-class golf courses, among them a Jack Nicklaus design, are attractive to a crowd with plenty of expendable income and leisure time. Beyond the country club gates, Phoenix offers everyone cultural pursuits, with a vibrant nightlife fueled by glitzy nightclubs and dive bars alike, along with a cosmopolitan culinary scene. Spring training baseball and abundant outdoor recreation are additional draws, while the city’s Desert Botanical Garden showcases the abundance of life that flourishes amidst harsh growing conditions, with displays of hearty cacti and native plant species.

San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

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Whether or not they “remember the Alamo,” folks are flocking to San Antonio, which grew by 24,208 to reach a population of 1,511,946. The major city in south-central Texas is steeped in colonial history, including the Alamo, the 18th-century Spanish mission preserved as a museum to commemorate the infamous 1836 battle for Texan independence from Mexico. Tracing the contours of the San Antonio River for miles through the heart of the city, San Antonio’s River Walk is its most prominent modern landmark, an alluring pedestrian promenade of shops, restaurants and bars. Future residents and vacationers can grab a great perspective on the city atop the 750-foot tall Tower of the Americas, which overlooks the entire city from its location in HemisFair Park.

Here Is Six Beautiful But Lesser Known National Wonders

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wever, you’re only familiar with some of the most famous ones. Here are six beautiful and lesser-known natural wonders to check out.

Giant’s Causeway, Antrim, Northern Ireland

Giant’s Causeway, Antrim, Northern Ireland

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Have you ever seen 40,000 interlocking basalt columns? If you visit Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, you can. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located along the Causeway Coastal Route in Northern Ireland. The basalt columns, which are relics from a volcanic age, lead from the hills to the ocean. At the visitor’s center, you can learn more about the cherished tale behind this natural wonder — one involving Irish and Scottish giants who got in a fight. The Irish giant attempted to build a path to Scotland, but the Scottish giant ripped it up.

Grand Prismatic Springs, Yellowstone, Wyoming

Grand Prismatic Springs, Yellowstone, Wyoming

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Many people go to Yellowstone to see Old Faithful, the geyser that regularly erupts into the air. But do you know about Grand Prismatic Spring? Also in Yellowstone, this geyser and hot spring is the biggest hot spring in the U.S. and the third biggest hot spring in the world. It’s located in the Midway Geyser Basin. The bright colors make this hot spring popular among photographers. Grand Prismatic is deeper than a 10-story building and larger than a football field.

Blue Grotto, Capri, Italy

Blue Grotto, Capri, Italy

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The Blue Grotto is a magical sea cave located near the island of Capri; thanks to the reflection of the sunlight, the entire cave is a vibrant shade of blue. You can visit Capri and go into the cave by boat. It’s a surreal, almost otherworldly experience and should definitely be on your bucket list. Be aware, though, that you may not be able to plan in advance — each morning, the skippers go to the mouth of the cave and decide whether it’s safe to enter that day.

Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

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Mammoth Cave is the longest known cave system in the world, and Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky is the place to go to see it. Over 400 miles of the cave system have been explored and you can take guided tours to learn about the geology and history of the caves. Stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone deposits and more line the interior. You can also camp in Mammoth Cave National Park and enjoy other surface activities such as hiking and horseback riding.

Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona/Utah

Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona/Utah

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The Paria Canyon Wilderness area stretches over 112,500 acres in Arizona and Utah. The Vermilion Cliffs have a Navajo sandstone face and lots of slot canyon hiking opportunities, plus deer and desert bighorn sheep. If you like alone time in nature, Paria Canyon is a gorgeous way to indulge in some. Check out Coyote Buttes, too; this is an area of amazing scenery where the colors and textures of the rock formations change in different types of weather.

Pulpit (Preikestolen) Rock, Norway

Pulpit (Preikestolen) Rock, Norway

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Preikestolen is a jaw-dropping, 1982-foot-tall cliff in the Rogaland area of Norway. Tucked in the Scandinavian Mountains, the cliff has a flat top that’s about 82 feet by 82 feet. Many tourists enjoy hiking Preikestolen, also called Pulpit Rock, but it’s not for the faint of heart. According to VisitNorway, the 3.7-mile hike takes four hours and ascends 1,148 feet. You can also hike during the night and watch the sunrise from the top of Pulpit Rock. Finally, if standing on top of the cliff doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, many companies offer sightseeing tours that take you out on the fjord, where you can view Preikestolen via boat.

6 Most Remote Places That Aren’t Islands

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

6 Most Remote Places That Aren’t Islands

Have you ever wanted to get away from it all? Whether it’s a crazy workload or just the desire for some real peace and quiet, it’s only natural that occasionally you’ll want to escape. And sometimes you want to go somewhere remote where you aren’t likely to run into anyone you know. If you’re dying for an escape, these six places are so remote you’ll wonder how you even get there.

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Siwa Oasis, Egypt

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Giza and Cairo might get all the attention when you mention Egypt, but the country is home to one of the most remote places in the world—Siwa Oasis. The Siwa Oasis is located within the Great Sand Sea and is full of lush olive and palm trees, along with mud-baked structures. But before you get any ideas that this place is abandoned, it’s not. Siwa Oasis is a thriving small town that is one of the most eastern areas to encapsulate the North African Amazigh Berber culture. To reach Siwa Oasis, the best option is to catch an eight- to 10-hour bus ride from surrounding cities like Cairo or Alexandria.

Changtang, Tibet

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Some regions just sound remote by default, and Tibet is the perfect example. In addition to being remote, the Changtang Plateau is home to the world’s second largest nature preserve. The preserve protects snow leopards, brown bears and black necked cranes along with other wildlife species. The locale is known as “The Roof of the World” because it is two and a half miles above sea level. The inhabitants of this region are nomadic and known as Changpa. According to a 1989 census, roughly half a million Changpa live in this area. However, if you’re thinking of braving the elements to get here, come prepared. Changtang is extremely remote and you’ll have to bring everything you need.

Supai Village, Arizona

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You don’t have to go abroad if you’re looking for a remote escape. Just head to the Grand Canyon. This might seem counterintuitive because of the park’s popularity, but the Havasupai Reservation is located within the canyon and includes the Supai Village. Supai Village can be reached if you’re up to the challenge of an 8-mile hike below the Grand Canyon rim. Note that while the village and the reservation are located within the Grand Canyon, they are not controlled by the National Park system, but rather by their tribal government.

To plan a trip to Supai Village, book a reservation through their tribal website. You can opt for a campground or lodge reservation. The campground allows you to camp anywhere along designated camping areas while the lodge is for those who don’t like “roughing it.” You can’t drive to Supai Village. Even the mail is delivered via pack mule. To access this remote town, either hike, take a helicopter to Hualapai Hilltop, or rent a pack horse or mule.

Longyearbyen, Norway

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Did you know that the world’s northernmost city is in Norway? If you’re up for the challenge, the isolated town of Longyearbyen is the perfect vacation spot. The town was founded by an American, John Longyear, in 1906 as a mining encampment. Between October 25 and March 8, the town experiences perpetual darkness because of its northern location.

You might be surprised to find that this Norwegian town is quite diverse. Longyearbyen is a popular haven for nature enthusiasts and scientists from around the world. Unlike other places in Norway—or even on this list—Longyearbyen “residents” are transient. People stay to complete work projects for a few years or even just months before returning to their permanent homes. To reach Longyearbyen, you can catch a flight from other locations directly to their local airport.

La Rinconada, Peru

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Longyearbyen isn’t the only remote mining town. La Rinconada is one of the highest elevation cities in the world, sitting 16,728 feet above sea level. This city of 50,000 people saw a massive population boom in the last decade because of gold prospecting. But its population growth exploded beyond their infrastructure means, so inhabitants often don’t have access to running water, paved roads or electricity. Of all of the locales on this list, La Rinconada is one of the hardest to reach. Because it’s high in the Andes, visitors risk altitude sickness to reach La Rinconada. And since there’s no consistent transit access, tourists must reach the town on their own.

Oymyakon, Russia

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Do you like cold weather? Have you ever wanted to visit a place so cold it makes your eyelashes freeze? If you’re thinking “sign me up!” then Oymyakon is the perfect place to plant your flag. We’re really not kidding when we say it gets cold: Temperatures can drop to as low as 88 degrees below Fahrenheit. The cold is such a concern that residents often leave their cars running to prevent the batteries from dying.

Oymyakon is a small settlement of 500 people located in the Yakutia region of Russia. This freezing town does get at least three hours of daylight in the winter. Still, if you’re planning on visiting this inhospitable land, dress warmly as frostbite is a serious concern here. Traveling to Oymyakon is a test of your patience. After a seven-hour flight from Moscow, you must somehow find a connecting ride on your own to reach the remote town.

7 Incredible Castles in the U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Incredible Castles in the U.S.

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Incredible Castles in the U.S.

Think you have to travel to Europe to see a jaw-dropping castle? Think again. Although they aren’t nearly as common here as they are in England, there are actually several castles in the United States. Some are hidden, and some are just standing there in plain sight. Here is a list of the seven most incredible castles in the U.S.

Belvedere Castle, New York

Belvedere Castle, New York

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Did you know there’s a castle in Central Park? Not many people outside New York do. Belvedere Castle was created by Calvert Vaux in 1869 as a way to welcome visitors to the park he helped design. It looks out onto the park’s Great Lawn and gives visitors the opportunity to take in some fantastic views from the top. In fact, the view is so great that it gave the castle its name — “Belvedere” means “Beautiful View” in Italian. This castle is not just beautiful to look at, though, it is also functional. The National Weather Service takes advantage of its location to take measurements of things like wind speed, rainfall amount and temperature for its forecasts.

Montezuma Castle, Arizona

Montezuma Castle, Arizona

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Montezuma Castle in Camp Verde, Arizona, is unlike any castle you have ever seen. It is built into the side of a cliff, where it has been sitting for more than 800 years. This pueblo “palace” contains 45 to 50 rooms, but unfortunately you will never be able to get inside to count them. Since 1951, this castle has been off-limits to the public as looters and time have rendered it too fragile for it to be safe. You can still climb up to peer in the windows, though, as you imagine what life must have been like back when it was built.

Castello di Amorosa, California

Castello di Amorosa, California

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If you have always wanted to visit Italy but can’t afford to leave the States, then head to Castello di Amorosa in California. Visiting this castle is like visiting Tuscany hundreds of years ago — and many visitors don’t realize that it was just completed in 2007 after a 14-year-long building period. Built by Dario Sattui, the great grandson of an Italian immigrant, this 107-room castle is a love letter to Italian culture, as well as a thriving vineyard and winery.

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Scotty’s Castle, California

Scotty's Castle, California

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Located in one of the only green areas of California’s Death Valley, Scotty’s Castle has an interesting history — and one that is full of lies. Rumor has it that this castle was built by a man named Walter Scott, also known as “Death Valley Scotty.” He told everyone that he had built it with a fortune he had gained from a collection of secret mines nearby that only he knew about. In reality, though, the castle was built by Albert and Bessie Johnson, who used it as a vacation home. Walter Scott was a friend of the family, though, and the castle bore his name, even if records show no evidence that he ever actually visited it at all.

Bannerman Castle, New York

Bannerman Castle, New York

Credit: karenfoleyphotography/Shutterstock

Of all the castles in the United States, Bannerman Castle arguably looks the most like an authentic castle from Europe, if only for the fact that it is now in ruins. The castle was built in 1901 by Francis Bannerman VI on Pollepel Island, an island that was once considered to be haunted. This was the perfect place for the owner of a military surplus company to build a fortress in which to store all the weapons he stockpiled during the Civil and Spanish Wars. Unfortunately, there proved to be some sort of curse on the island after all; in 1967, the castle was destroyed by a fire, turning it into a collection of beautiful ruins.

Iolani Palace, Hawaii

Iolani Palace, Hawaii

Credit: Allen.G/Shutterstock

While most of the castles in the United States were built by millionaires, Iolani Palace in Honolulu, Hawaii, is the only one that is an official royal residence. It was built in the early 1880s by Hawaii’s King Kalakaua, one of the last monarchs to ever reign over the region. The very last was his sister, Queen Liliuokalani, who ruled Hawaii after him and lived in the palace he had built. After the monarchy was overthrown in 1893, the castle was kept up and restored, so now it still looks much like it did back then.

Boldt Castle, New York

Boldt Castle, New York

Credit: Victoria Lipov/Shutterstock

The history of the number one castle on our list is a sad one. The idea for Boldt Castle was conceived of by millionaire George C. Boldt, who was also the proprietor of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. He wanted to build a “full size Rhineland castle” on Heart Island in Alexandria Bay as an expression of his love for his wife. He was planning to gift the castle to her … but then something terrible happened. In 1904, Boldt’s beloved wife died. Bereft, Boldt immediately stopped construction on the castle and never returned to the island. The castle sat there, unfinished, for more than 70 years, until the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority bought the property in 1977 and began restoring it for future generations.

‘Love has no borders’: Arizona man fulfills Christmas wish list for Mexican girl who sent it by balloon

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

‘Love has no borders’: Arizona man fulfills Christmas wish list for Mexican girl who sent it by balloon

“It really touched my heart to find it,” said Randy Heiss, who spotted a balloon with the note attached.
By Janelle Griffith

It was a Christmas wish that crossed international borders. An Arizona man fulfilled the Christmas list of an 8-year-old girl in Mexico whose letter to Santa reached him by way of balloon.

Earlier this month, Randy Heiss was hiking in Patagonia, Arizona, when he saw the ragged remains of a balloon with a note attached.

One side of the note read: “Dayami.” On the other was a numbered list written in Spanish.

Heiss’ wife translated the list and the pair identified its likely sender as a girl named Dayami. The note was intended for Santa and asked for art supplies, slime, a doll and a dollhouse, among other things. No contact information was left on the note.

“It really touched my heart to find it and I said, ‘Well, how in the heck am I going to be able to figure out how to make contact with this little girl and make her wishes come true?’” Heiss told NBC affiliate KVOA in Tucson.

Heiss believed the winds carried Dayami’s Christmas wish list about 20 miles away from Nogales, Mexico.

He shared the letter on his Facebook account. After a few days with no leads, he enlisted the help of Radio XENY, a station in Nogales. The station posted Heiss’ story to its Facebook page.

Within an hour, they were able to find Dayami, who lives in Nogales.

The radio station told NBC News on Monday that it helped to arrange for Heiss and his wife to meet Dayami and her family at its offices late last week.

Heiss and his wife delivered the toys to Dayami and her sister younger sister, Ximena, during the meeting. It brought him “healing joy” to see the children’s happy faces, Heiss told the “Today” show.

“Love has no borders,” he said. “That wall melted away for the day.”

As it turns out, the experience was a gift for the couple, too.

“We lost our son nine years ago,” Heiss told KVOA. “So we don’t have grandchildren in our future and so really getting to share Christmas with kids was something that’s been missing in our lives.”

Republican Politicians And Their Sham Against Democracy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

Republicans Are Casting Doubt On Normal Election Processes For The Sake Of Winning

By characterizing basic safeguards as illegitimate, Rick Scott and President Trump are undermining democracy.
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On Thursday night, two days after Election Day, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) stood on the steps of the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee and unleashed a nuclear bomb aimed at the very foundation of democracy. Scott suggested there was “rampant fraud” in the state. “No ragtag group of liberal activists or lawyers from D.C.” was going to steal the election from Floridians, the governor said.

When Scott made his comments, Florida hadn’t even hit the deadline to submit unofficial election results to the state. Scott asked the state’s law enforcement agency to investigate his allegations, but the agency quickly said there was nothing to investigate.

That hasn’t stopped President Donald Trump from continuing to insist that there was fraud in the state. There is no evidence of fraud to support his claim.

Scott’s election night lead over Nelson has shrunk significantly, and the margin is now so slim that the state is in the midst of a legally required recount. But election experts say there’s nothing unusual or nefarious about vote tallies changing days after an election. Instead of letting election officials count the ballots as usual, the comments from Scott and Trump amount to an effort to undermine normal election processes.

Steven Huefner, a law professor at Ohio State University, wrote that it was “beyond unseemly” and “downright destructive of public trust in our elections” for election officials to attribute changing vote totals to nefarious actions.

Florida allows voters to cast ballots by mail and accepts them until 7 p.m. on Election Day. Election officials then have to verify signatures on the ballots in addition to determining whether provisional ballots cast on Election Day can count. That process can take time, which is why Florida and other states give counties time to conduct what’s called a canvass and review the votes. In Florida, the deadline for counties to submit unofficial results to the state was Saturday and the deadline for official results is Nov. 18.

“Results on election night, it’s actually never been final on election night. Ever in the history of our country. There’s always been this continuation of calculating the results and all that,” said Amber McReynolds, the former top elections official in Denver who is now the executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute, a group that advocates for voting by mail. “This is not new. Florida’s doing exactly what other states are doing right now. California has even more to count. But in California, there’s not a Republican that might win, so it’s not getting any attention.”

Charles Stewart, the director of the MIT Election Lab, noted that, in addition to trying to deal with mailed-in ballots, counties also had to tally their early votes. Florida law doesn’t allow officials to count early votes until after the polls have closed. Different counties may also tally at different speeds because of the equipment available, the kinds of ballots they receive and staffing, experts say.

Scott has complained that Brenda Snipes, the supervisor of elections in Broward County, refused to turn over information about how many ballots still needed to be tallied. He secured a court order on Friday requiring her to hand over the information.

Ned Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University, has studied the way that vote totals change during a canvass after Election Day. Those shifts tend to benefit Democrats and are a “relatively new phenomenon,” he said, because more people are voting by mail and Congress passed a law in 2002 requiring officials to offer provisional ballots.

“Both of those things have the effect of having ballots eligible to be counted but not available for counting on election night,” he said. “For demographic reasons, groups that tend to vote Democratic Party ― students, younger voters, more mobile voters ― you’re more likely to get caught up in the need for a provisional ballot if you’re just a more transient population.”

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Usually, shifts in vote counts after Election Day go unnoticed because they aren’t enough to overcome the initially reported margin of victory. But in Florida, the changing tally is getting scrutinized because the margin separating the candidates is so thin, Foley said. A similar process is playing out in Arizona, where election officials are still counting the ballots in close races for U.S. Senate and secretary of state.

California has even more to count. But in California, there’s not a Republican that might win, so it’s not getting any attention.Amber McReynolds, executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute

Trump tweeted Monday that Florida shouldn’t consider any of the votes tallied after election night, a move that would disenfranchise military voters whose ballots can be accepted until Nov. 16.  Scott’s campaign is also suing in state court to block officials in Broward County, a key bastion of Democratic votes, from officially counting any ballots that weren’t tallied by the state’s Saturday deadline for unofficial results.

Foley said the allegations of fraud and election stealing in Florida were particularly worrisome because there could be shifts of tens of thousands of votes during a presidential election. The allegations in Florida could serve as a prelude for a candidate to undermine the results in 2020. A key part of democracies, he said, is that the candidates accept the results of elections as legitimate.

“Every election has a winner and a loser, and the loser has to accept defeat,” he said. The loser “has to think that, even though they really wanted to win and thought they should have won ― or maybe even thought the vote-counting process was inaccurate in some respects ― that we can accept it.”

The talk of fraud got the attention of the chief state judge in Broward County, who urged lawyers for both campaigns who were in court Monday to “ramp down the rhetoric” about voter fraud.

Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, who specializes in elections, wrote in Slate that that kind of questioning of election results could lay the foundation for a constitutional crisis.

“If President Trump is ahead in his re-election bid on the night of the election, only to lose that lead as more ballots in larger — mostly Democratic — counties are counted through a normal process in the days and weeks after Election Day, it seems reasonable to be concerned that he will contest such a legitimate vote,” Hasen wrote. “We don’t know if he would even vacate his office in such a scenario, triggering the possibility of a real constitutional crisis.”

G.O.P. Congressman’s 6 Brothers And Sisters Say: Don’t Vote For Our Brother

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Rep. Paul Gosar’s siblings in new ad: Don’t vote for our brother

Washington (CNN)Six siblings of Republican Rep. Paul Gosar delivered a stark message in a new television advertisement: Vote for their brother’s opponent.

The Democrat challenging Gosar in Arizona’s 4th District unveiled a new ad Friday that features Grace, David, Jennifer, Tim, Joan and Gaston lambasting Gosar over Social Security, health care, water policy and more.
“Paul’s absolutely not working for his district,” David says.
Then comes the big reveal: Gosar is their brother — but they endorse David Brill, the Democrat running against him.
Paul Gosar is the oldest of 10 children.
In response to the ad, Gosar told CNN in a statement Saturday that the siblings featured in the ad are “liberal Democrats who hate President Trump” and slammed Bill for engaging “in this shameful attack.”
“These disgruntled Hillary supporters (sic) are related by blood to me but like leftists everywhere, they put political ideology before family. Lenin, Mao and Kim Jung (sic) Un would be proud,” Gosar said. “It is unfortunate that my opponent chose to use family political differences to launch attacks on me rather than focusing on the issues.”
He added, “You can’t pick your family. We all have crazy aunt’s and relatives etc and my family is no different. I hope they find peace in their hearts and let go all the hate. To the six angry Democrat Gosars — see you at Mom and Dad’s house!”
Gosar has a long history of controversial remarks and actions. He promoted the conspiracy theory that the white supremacists’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year was a plot by the left financed by Democratic mega-donor George Soros, who Gosar said “turned in his own people to the Nazis.”
In July, Gosar spoke in London at a rally for an anti-Muslim activist. He is also one of the staunchest opponents of legal rights for undocumented “Dreamers” in Congress.
His district, made up of mostly rural western Arizona, is generally not considered competitive in November: Gosar won by more than 40 percentage points in 2016. President Donald Trump won there by 39 points in 2016, and Mitt Romney carried the district by 36 points in 2012.
But the sharply personal ad is certain to generate attention for Brill’s campaign.
The Phoenix New Times reported that the ad and others were unveiled at a fundraiser in Phoenix on Thursday night — and that in another spot, which is not public yet, Grace Goser says that “it would be difficult to see my brother as anything but a racist.”
It’s just the latest ad to feature a politician’s family member this year.
In Wisconsin, Democrat Randy Bryce’s brother is featured in an ad backing Republican Bryan Steil in the 1st District race for retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan’s seat.
And the parents of Republican Kevin Nicholson, who was a Senate candidate in Wisconsin before he lost the primary to state Sen. Leah Vukmir, gave the maximum contributions allowable under federal campaign finance law to the Democratic incumbent whom Nicholson hoped to challenge, Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

 

 

 

 

 

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