Giant chasm opens up in desert of Sonora, Mexico

Mexican chasm  Jan 1 2014

This 3,300 feet long & 25 feet deep (one kilometer & 8 meter) chasm opened last August in the desert outside Hermosillo, Mexico in the state of Sonora (on the US border with Arizona). The Washington Post published an article claiming “scientists” said it was nothing to sweat about. Turns out the “scientists” are just one guy who chairs the geology department at the University of Sonora named Inocente Guadalupe Espinoza Maldonado. Professor Espinoza called the chasm a “topographic accident” & “no cause for alarm” because “These are normal manifestations of the destabilization of the ground.” He might reconsider that judgement if it went through his living room or interrupted one of his lectures.

He considered it unlikely to be tectonic or seismic activity & more likely due to decades of over-pumping groundwater for agricultural irrigation which caused the surface to collapse. He claimed large-scale agriculture is going on in the area of the fault though you wouldn’t know it from this picture. There isn’t a shrub in sight.

It well may be from excessive extraction of water & intrusion of saltwater from the nearby Gulf of California, as the good professor claims, but that sure as hell is not “normal” or “no cause for alarm.” As we can see in this video, the fault went right through a highway. He might enlighten the residents of Hermosillo by explaining if local geologists were monitoring the situation & warning public officials that faulty irrigation methods could cause “topographic” problems. It would also be important for him to explain how the August 6th mining spill of copper sulfate acid into the Sonora River 183 miles (294 kilometers) upstream interacts with all this. The Sonora River supplies water to nearly one million residents of Hermosillo & hundreds of thousands of people along the river & empties into the Gulf of California. Upstream the water is orange, mucky, undrinkable, & unusable in every other way. And it’s likely to stay that way since the mining company & Mexican government are colluding & obstructing cleanup.

There is crescendoing alarm about the relationship of fracking, sinkholes, & earthquakes & the connection of all that to climate change. These are important questions that cannot be left to conspiracy theorists & other crackpots. Responsible geologists & other scientists cannot be cavalier because people are asking serious questions involving the survival of the human race. The planet will survive neoliberal depredations. The question is, will we?

(Photo is screen shot from video of Sonora fault. Please view the brief video to see how scary the damn thing is.)

The phony US-NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan

It’s regrettable to start 2015 with bad news but are US-NATO pulling another Iraq War-style withdrawal from Afghanistan? They held a military ceremony with lots of saluting & a flag lowering but they’re leaving 20,000 troops in Afghanistan. What about the massive drone operation?

At this time last year, the US was arm-twisting & threatening then president Karzai for refusing to sign a security agreement that would negate Afghan sovereignty by allowing US troops to stay with impunity for criminal acts committed. He accused the US not only of fostering conflict with the Taliban but of playing both sides of street. Karzai was never anybody’s hero but even he couldn’t stomach the subservience to the Pentagon.

The new president, Ashraf Ghani, who won office through election fraud, is as sycophantic to the US as Karzai when he won office through election fraud. Ghani was in office for only moments before he signed the security agreement which sanctions continued US occupation under the guise of “counterterrorism operations against the Taliban & other insurgents.” What a multitude of crimes are contained in that vague formulation, including US military involvement in drug trafficking, drone bombings of civilians, terrorizing of the population, massive homelessness & millions of war refugees.

You gotta hand it to Ghani: he’s handsome, a spiffy dresser, & credentialed up to his eyeballs with academic honors but he’s as corrupt as everybody else in Afghanistan who makes league with the US government against the people of Afghanistan.

The US-NATO war in Afghanistan has not ended & frankly we’re tired of Obama’s (speaking of handsome & spiffy dressers with academic honors) grotesque shell game. The antiwar movement has only one response to the news of US-NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan: we continue marching to demand US out of Afghanistan! US out of Iraq!