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Are you on the endangered species list?

THE SOUTHWEST

Nikki Cooley is a Colorado River guide for Arizona Raft Adventures who also "happens to be Navajo," reports the boatman's quarterly review. So it must have struck her as particularly odd when a tourist on one of her Grand Canyon trips casually asked, "Are Indians extinct?" No word on her reply.

THE BORDER

Who knew that, along with a pricey fence to wall off our border with Mexico, we also needed to consider building a moat? A moat might have blocked Mexican drug smugglers from trying out their latest audacious scheme -- a catapult that hurled packages of marijuana over the U.S. fence and into Arizona. National Guard troops operating remote cameras spotted several of the catapult launches, but by the time Mexican Army troops got to the scene, the smugglers had fled. No doubt they were sorry to leave behind their 9-foot, homemade catapult on a flatbed pulled by a SUV, plus 35 pounds of pot, reports The Associated Press.

MONTANA

You'd think elected officials would have learned by now to zip their lips and not make veiled threats against other public officials. But Montana Republican U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg apparently did not get the message. Instead, in a speech to a joint session of the state Legislature, he proposed putting "judicial activists on the endangered species list," clearly a reference to Federal District Court Judge Don Molloy, who last summer made a controversial decision involving wolves, an endangered species. Even worse, "Rehberg's threat drew an eager laugh," said The New York Times in an editorial condemning Rehberg's "dangerous threats." Three of Judge Molloy's children spoke out against Rehberg's inflammatory words. In light of the murderous events in Tucson, they said in a letter to Helena's Independent Record, they wondered how Rehberg could speak so thoughtlessly. "It is not acceptable or appropriate to make veiled or outright threats of harm to anyone," they reminded him. "We are fourth-generation Montanans, and our parents raised us to respect other people, even people with whom we might not agree."

From our friends

HCN in the outhouses of the West

From my Alaska trip: I flew into a small town that is not reachable by road, then hopped on a motorboat and drove across lakes and rivers for 2.5 hours to reach the scientists' camp way out in the boondocks -- out there they have a few rough cabins and a generator that makes electricity only in the evening and two outhouses -- and lo and behold, for reading material in the outhouses they have issues of the Economist magazines and HCN -- amazing to discover HCN readers way out there!

Ray Ring, HCN Senior Editor

Serious words from a devoted reader:

"I've been a big fan of HCN since a friend first donated a subscription to me...I've received piles of HCN on at least four continents at this point. So, you see, the printed magazine, in the past 20 years, has become part of the warp and weft of my life and I am unwilling to leave it behind..."

Paul Brockmann, constant traveler