Water-stealing trees and fitness strip tease

 

ARIZONA AND UTAH

Elected officials say the most surprising things when it comes to environmental matters. Take Sylvia Allen, a Republican state senator from Snowflake, Ariz. She worked hard to get a Christmas tree from her district shipped to the state Capitol, where it graced the lobby of the state Senate, reports the Arizona Republic. But why did she pull strings — “or was it a chainsaw cord?” — to get the nearly 20-foot-high ponderosa pine donated? Was it just because she thought the tree would look beautiful decorated for Christmas? Or was she out for revenge against treekind? Last year, Allen accused trees of “stealing Arizona’s water supply.” Meanwhile, in Helper, Utah, Mayor Mike Dalpiaz became upset when he learned that a new building in town would feature photovoltaic panels on its roof. This bodes ill for Helper, he says, because the town’s power grid “is one of Helper’s biggest revenue sources.” If more people go solar, he told the Times Independent of Moab, the budget would take a hit. The mayor urged elected officials to get busy and pass an ordinance “to attack this green energy problem.”

COLORADO AND UTAH

Why should professional ecdysiasts have all the fun? In the town of
Carbondale in western Colorado, women from 18 to 60 and older are reportedly flocking to Stripper Fit classes, where they get to wear heels and tiny “booty shorts” while learning to perform “stripper squats” and “pole fusion,” reports the Sopris Sun. “It gives women a chance to do something out of their everyday life,” says a teacher. But be warned: Once enrolled at Stripper Fit, every student has to come up with a stripper moniker — something along the lines of the teachers’ choices, which are “Barbie,” “Honey” and “Minx.”

THE WEST

Speaking of stripping, thousands of foreclosed homes in Arizona stand really, really empty because they’ve been stripped of everything homeowners take for granted, from toilets, tubs, sinks and refrigerators, to stoves, light fixtures and cabinets — in fact, anything that isn’t nailed down, including palm trees. Not that thieves come in the night and cart everything off, reports the New York Times. No, it’s usually the owners themselves, trying to earn a few dollars before the bank turns them out. Homeowners often advertise through Craigslist, the Web site for classified ads, but because this is illegal in Arizona, the FBI has begun to arrest and charge people with felonies under a state statute. In hard-hit states like Nevada, though, no state law applies, and owners about to be bounced routinely invite buyers to strip a house bare before a bank takes possession. It’s tough for lenders to stop the many homeowners who do this, and taking people to court is costly and time-consuming. It’s also hard to condemn the strippers, says the Times, because “as in most of the country, sympathy for banks is running low, and opportunism is running high.” Still, San Joaquin County in Southern California has our sympathy as it faces the daunting task of monitoring some 2,000 neglected swimming pools. Opportunistic wildlife has begun filling new niches at these lonely homes, though officials have a remedy for one invader. When neighbors complain that pools have become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, the county brings in mosquito fish, which eat the larvae and prevent a population explosion, reports NewAmericaMedia. And then there are the hordes of rats. But that problem carries its own solution: Once homeowners are gone, their garbage disappears and eventually so do the rats. Like the rest of us, they rely on a prosperous economy.

THE NATION

Yes, we’re seeing more crows these days, says Lyanda Lynn Haupt in her book Crow Planet, and that’s because people and crows can live just about anywhere. At the same time, the world has become more crowded, throwing crows and people closer together. While it’s an overstatement to say that crows “enjoy” human company, they do know how to get along with us, so that now, “nearly everyone has a story to tell.” Haupt tells about one crow who followed a mail carrier on his rounds for two years, “walking behind him like a golden retriever.” Then there’s the story about a crow that hooked up with a cat skilled at killing birds, so it could share “in the feasting.” Another crow became famous after it watched Canadian pilots practice flying in daredevil formation, much like the American Blue Angels. You guessed it: Afterward, the crow astonished watchers by trying a little upside-down flying, too. Crows may not be the bird we deserve, Haupt says, but they are the bird we’ve been given.

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