Heard Around the West

  • The town of Orofino, on the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho, sends a - slightly mixed - welcome message

    Mic Metz


If you protest acts of violence, does that make you a violent person? The answer is yes, according to the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center. The center warned Oakland police that an anti-war protest planned for the city’s port might turn violent, even though there was no evidence that demonstrators intended to do anything but demonstrate, reports the Oakland Tribune. Mike Van Winkle, a spokesman for the center, defended his warning: “You can make an easy kind of link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that’s being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that (protest).” Van Winkle added, “You can almost argue that protest against that is a terrorist act.” Actually, you could almost argue that the only violence at the peaceful protest came from local police: They fired wooden slugs at demonstrators.


Sometimes, police can accommodate protesters with finesse. In Santa Fe, Police Chief Beverly Lennen urged anyone planning on practicing civil disobedience during a visit from President Bush to make a reservation. “Should a person choose to be arrested in order to make their statement,” the police chief told the Santa Fe New Mexican, “we can arrange that up front.” Advance booking of the time and place of an arrest, said the city’s top cop, would help ensure a safe demonstration for everybody.


Congratulations, Polka and Dot! At 17, the couple may be a little long in the beak, but the two northern spotted owls have just become proud parents of two dark-eyed owlets, reports The Associated Press. This is only the second time that the endangered species has given birth in captivity. The family is resting comfortably in their nest 10 feet aboveground, which is in the trunk of a fake evergreen tree at the High Desert Museum in Bend. Carol Nork, assistant manager of animal care at the museum, called the births “the equivalent of a 45-to-50-year-old woman having a baby.” While peering into the nest to check out how many owls had been born, Nork was attacked by Polka and cut on the face and head. But she forgave the attack, saying, “He’s being a good dad, doing his job.”


In the last three days of the Colorado Legislature, an all-court push came from the White House for a new redistricting bill. Not surprisingly, it favored Republicans, and it passed — without any help from Karl Rove, the president’s political advisor. Rove did call, reports the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, but the state’s Senate majority leader refused to talk to him. “I didn’t know who he was,” said Republican Sen. Norma Anderson. “The only thing I get from Washington are bad things — like mandates.” Later, she reportedly apologized to Rove.


A large ice cream truck passing through Boulder drew stares. On its side was a sign: “Attention: Driver does not carry spoons.”


More than a cooking pot was scorched in a fire on the Mexico-Arizona border in mid-May. The cooking fire, started by illegal border-crossers about 60 miles southeast of Tucson, blew up. By the time it was contained, it had burned some 400 pounds of marijuana that a different group of illegal wanderers — smugglers — had stashed behind a tree. It also nearly trapped three firefighters, who saved themselves from flames up to 30 feet high by deploying their small, tent-like emergency shelters. Though it was hot inside, reports the Daily Star of Tucson, the shelters — dubbed ‘Shake and Bakes’ — saved their lives.


Reeves Brown, president of Club 20, a coalition of Western Slope counties, was passing through the town of Delta when a banner over Main Street caught his eye. “Sex Abstinence Week, April 21-25,” it read, causing Brown to wonder why Abstinence “Week” was less than seven days long. “I guess they thought it was unrealistic to expect anyone to abstain longer,” he writes in the group’s newsletter, Colorado West.

Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, CO. Tips of Western oddities are always appreciated and often shared in the column.

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