Newsitos for 3/20/09


Birds are in trouble. Pretty much everywhere. Largely thanks to our appetite for energy. "In the last 40 years," reports AP, "populations of birds living on prairies, deserts and at sea have declined between 30 percent and 40 percent."

The biggest bundle of federal-lands deals in decades (the Omnibus Lands Bill) -- which died last week in the U.S. House -- remains so popular, it's been revived, passed again by the Senate and shipped back to the House where it'll likely pass next week -- thanks to political trickery by Democrats.

A top ecologist -- Jane Lubchenco from Oregon State University -- has been confirmed as the new head of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), where she's expected to pump new life into salmon restoration programs.

And a Clinton-appointed judge in D.C. has blocked Bush's attempt to let tourists carry concealed guns in national parks. The judge was scornful saying Bush "ignored" federal laws in a process that was "astoundingly flawed."

About Ray

Ray has been a Western journalist since 1979. He's now High Country News senior editor, based in Bozeman, Montana. He's earned national recognition including a George Polk Award for political reporting, a Sidney Hillman Foundation Journalism Award for investigating oil-field accidents, and an Investigative Reporters & Editors scroll for going undercover as a prison inmate. He's had three novels published.