Good People Doing Good Things — ‘Round the World

They are out there, folks.  Good people exist.  They see a need, they do whatever is in their power to help meet that need.  And they exist everywhere, as you will see in a minute.  Somedays it is easy to believe that we are nothing but a cruel and evil society whose only concerns are wealth and greed.  In truth, there is a lot of that all over the world … I don’t even try to deny it.  But, at least once in a while it is requisite for our emotional and physical well-being to step back from the ‘dog-eat-dog’ world and look for the flowers growing among the thistles.  flowers-among-thistlesThey are there … you just have to look for them, for they are often overshadowed by the thistles.  That is why, no matter how embedded I am in the political fray, no matter what else is happening in the world, I try very hard to make sure I focus on those good people at least once a week.


I’d like to introduce you to a young man named Vaughn, and his friend Tony.  Vaughn is ten-years-old and was not feeling well one day last November when his mother, Mandy, needed to stop for fuel at a local gas station in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.  I don’t know what the station attendant, Tony, said to young Vaughn, but within minutes he had him laughing and talking. z2zjh-boy-buys-gas-station-worker-bike-1

According to Vaughn’s mother’s Facebook page

“Since then we regularly visit the station and Vaughn eagerly looks out for his new friend. Tony always takes the time to talk to Vaughn about the various bikes we haul to Giba and back and listens so obligingly to him as he chatters away.

So when Tony asked us to looks out for a reasonably priced bike for him Vaughn promised to find him one.

Vaughn has been collecting all the silver money around the house for months, saving for a “holiday” for us. One night he came to me and asked if I really wanted a holiday and upon asking why he said he would rather put his savings towards helping Tony get his bike. ❤️

And so today, we cracked open the piggy bank and took all the silvers to Game where he bought his friend a bicycle.

Our children make us proud on so many occasions but today my heart and his is so full of the joy at the kind man’s face as he, rather stunned accepted his gift from this 10year old boy.”

Ten years old and he’s already learned the value of giving, of caring, of friendship.


There is a community of Sikhs living in San Antonio, Texas, that offered free meals to all government workers during the recent shutdown.  As part of the Sikh religion, one of their duties is to look after and protect the downtrodden.sikh center san antonio

“We are here to support those federal employees who are not getting their paycheck, and we really appreciate their services… and we believe our nation should appreciate and give gratitude to those men and women who are doing wonderful service for us, but are not getting paid so. They come early in the morning, four o’clock, sometimes five o’clock to start preparing.” — Balwinder Dhillon, President of the Sikh Center of San Antonio.

And while no one in their community is directly affected by the shutdown …

plates of food “We don’t worry about one community. We all belong to one race, which is the human race. We think we are all brothers and sisters and we need to support each other no matter who we are. We may have different color, different class or religion, or social and economic status, but at the end of the day, we are all brothers and sisters.”

“We all belong to one race, which is the human race.” Spot ON!!!


Pat-Smith-1.jpgMeet Pat Smith.  Pat runs a bed and breakfast in St Austell, Cornwall, UK, but that is not why she is being featured here today.  For her 2018 New Year’s resolution, Pat vowed to clean up one beach each week from Coverack, Cornwall, to Blackpool Sands, Devon.  And she has done just that.

“Doing 52 beach cleans in 2018 was my New Year’s Resolution and it’s finally done. I won’t stop as our beaches need me.”

pat-smith-2Check out this article with pictures of some of the litter Pat has picked up, as well as a listing of all 52 beaches she has cleaned in the past year.    But Pat’s good stewardship doesn’t end there!beach trashIn the summer of 2017, Pat launched an environmental group, The Final Straw Cornwall.

“I founded the Final Straw to try and raise awareness of the catastrophic damage we are doing to our oceans from our casual consumption of single use plastics. I feel I have a responsibility to my children and grandchildren to do something about it.”

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This organization really deserves a post of its own, but by the time I came across it last night, I already had the two previous good people, and I didn’t want to slight them.  But do take a look at the Final Straw website (link above) and see some of the really wonderful things they are doing to reduce plastic waste in our environment.  Every country needs a branch of Final Straw.  Come to think of it, every country needs a Pat Smith!


That’s all I have time for today, but be sure to drop in again next Wednesday, for there are many, many more good people out there.  Oh, by the way, remember Liam Hannon and his dad, Scott, that I wrote about last week?  I received a Facebook message from Scott Hannon a few days ago … he had seen the piece and wrote to thank me for highlighting his son!  I’m always happy when I hear from one of the good people I write about!

A Disaster Overlooked …

The Washington Post and New York Times both carried multiple stories about the ‘end’ of the government shutdown, about Roger Stone’s arrest, about Venezuela’s current presidency conundrum, and about the Trump ego-wall.  Neither carried, at least not in the major news sections, this story I found in bold headlines in The Guardian:

Hundreds Feared dead as Brazil dam collapse releases mud tide

Are we so wrapped up in our own detritus, in any story that carries the words ‘Trump’, ‘republicans’, ‘corruption’, ‘scandal’, or ‘immigrant’ that we simply don’t care about people in other places?  I don’t know, but apparently our two most credible media outlets think so.  Sure, I understand that we are interested in our own situation which is, unarguably dire, but can we not take a few minutes to care about people in other countries?

Here’s the story as of 2:00 p.m. this afternoon …

Hundreds of people are feared dead after a dam operated by the mining company Vale collapsed in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, releasing a wave of red iron ore waste and causing the worst environmental catastrophe in the country’s recent history.

Ten bodies have already been found and more than 300 people remain missing, according to the company. The disaster comes only three years after a similar failure of the Fundão tailings dam near Mariana – co-owned by Vale – which killed 19 people.

Take a quick look …

Brazil’s new right-wing populist president, Jair Bolsonaro, has frequently attacked environmentalists who predicted this very thing and who have been calling for tighter regulations at the mine.

Most of the victims of the disaster were Vale employees or subcontractors, around 100 of whom were having lunch in a canteen on the mine complex when the torrent of mud swept over them. A busload of workers was also killed, it was reported.

It cost billions to clean up after the Mariana disaster in 2015, which polluted the drinking water of hundreds of thousands. Yet no individual was ever held responsible.

I notice that CNN did do a piece on this catastrophe, and undoubtedly other media outlets in the U.S. covered it as well, but WHY wasn’t it headline news?  Because the majority of the media outlets thought people would rather read the same news they saw yesterday about the shutdown, about Roger Stone, and about Donald Trump. brazil-4

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Two For Twoday …

I had every intention of writing a nice, calm peaceful piece this afternoon … something NOT about Trump or his minions, something either funny, promising, or inspiring in one way or another.  But then, a couple of things crossed my radar and suddenly I find myself beating the print off of my keyboard (literally, for I no longer have lettering on my ‘I’, ‘o’, or ‘n’ keys!).  So, I hope you’re in the mood for a few of my snarky snippets …


Non-Press Secretary Sanders leaves climate change to God …

Sarah Huckabee Sanders-1Sarah Huckabee Sanders was told by her boss not to bother with daily, or even weekly press briefings anymore, for the press don’t talk nice to her, and they don’t say nice things about da prez, so why bother?  So … I’m very puzzled as to what her job description is these days, why We the Taxpayers are still paying her the $179,700 annual salary, for she damn sure isn’t doing anything to earn it!  But now I know … she goes on Fox New talk shows and makes a complete fool of herself …

Earlier this week, newly-minted House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in an on-stage interview that we needed to act on climate change before it was too late. She noted that the “world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change,” referencing the tipping point after which scientists say it’ll be too late to address greenhouse gas emissions. She’s right about all that. And she’s especially right to point that out when we have a government that rejects climate science in addition to ignoring science in general.

So then on Tuesday night, during an interview with, of all people, Fox ‘News’ Sean Hannity, Sarah Huckabee Sanders decided that only God should be concerned about climate change, and that our government has bigger fish to fry …

“Look, I don’t think we’re going to listen to her on much of anything, particularly not on matters we’re gonna leave in the hands of a much, much higher authority, and certainly not listen to the freshman congresswoman on when the world may end. We’re focused on what’s happening in the world right now.”

Need I say more?


Come into my parlour, said the spider to the fly …

Remember back in July, when we learned that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, did not have the highest-level security clearance necessary to review high-level documents?  The reason was he kept messing up his security review, because he kept ‘forgetting’ to record interactions with a number of foreign officials, primarily Russians.  I had mostly forgotten about it, and I imagine you did too, but yesterday I saw this headline …

Report: Security officials rejected Kushner’s top secret clearance, but were overruled

kushner.jpegTurns out that two career White House security specialists rejected Jared Kushner’s application for a top-secret security clearance after Kushner’s FBI background check raised red flags, and there were concerns about his foreign entanglements.  Kusher’s family businesses leave him vulnerable to foreign influence, they said, and he has not satisfactorily explained some of his Russian connections.  Why is this guy even working in our government???  But wait …

Their supervisor, Carl Kline, who became director of the personnel security office in the Executive Office of the President in May 2017, decided to override their professional opinion and give Kushner the highest level of security clearance despite the concerns of the FBI!!!  Think about that one for a moment, folks!  And … not only that, but this Kline person has also overruled at least 30 other rejections of incoming Trump officials!  I want to know who those people are and what the objections were!  Is our government being infiltrated with Russian agents or those who are entangled with Russian agents?  Who knows?

Those who keep saying that the foundation, The U.S. Constitution, the rule of law, will protect us from a Trump-dictatorship need to think about this one long and hard.  Sure, there are rules in place, but Donald Trump has long since decided that those rules do not apply to him and his chosen minions!  Our lives, our future, are in the hands of a maniacal madman who believes the world is made only for him.

An Important Message …

I came across this video created by Greenpeace a few days ago.  Greenpeace, founded in 1971, is a non-governmental environmental organization focusing on worldwide issues such as climate change, deforestation, overfishing, commercial whaling, genetic engineering, and anti-nuclear issues.  Their mission statement:

Greenpeace is a global, independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

The video contains probably some of the worst singing you will hear this week, but the message is important, the message is one that needs to be remembered and shared.  Our lives, the lives of our children and their children are at stake here, and every person on this planet has the ability to make a difference.

Filosofa’s State of the Union Address

Yesterday, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, sent a letter to Donald Trump strongly urging that he either reschedule the State of the Union Address or deliver it in writing, in the wake of the ongoing government shutdown, which entered its 26th day on Wednesday, and which has affected nearly 800,000 federal workers. Pelosi cited critical government agencies in charge of overseeing the event — namely U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security — that have been hobbled by the shutdown.

Under the circumstances, it is highly unlikely that Trump will, in fact, deliver a State of the Union address in person on Friday, 29 January.  So, it seemed prudent, just in case I am asked to deliver it in his stead, to go ahead and write my own speech … Text dividersGood evening Ms. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans.

Ms. Pelosi graciously invited me to fill in for Mr. Trump in giving the State of the Union Address tonight, for with the government shutdown in its 39th day, the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security are stretched far too thin to provide adequate security to attend this address to Congress.  It was determined that far fewer people want to bump me off than Mr. Trump, so my safety seems not to be at risk and thus I am here to deliver the speech to Congress and the Nation tonight.  Mr. Trump’s speechwriters worked very hard to provide me with a written speech, however, I seem to have left it back at the hotel, so luckily I have written my own.

This is called the State of the Union address because the purpose is to inform the American people how the country is doing, and where we are going, what we plan to accomplish in the coming year.  Let me start with how we are doing.

America is more divided today than at any time since the end of the Civil War years.  We have problems, folks – serious problems.  As I mentioned today marks the 39th day of the partial government shutdown that is affecting everyone in one way or another.  You, the people of this once-great nation are losing confidence, and understandably so, in your government.  Investors are losing confidence and it is being reflected in the dropping stock market and also in the job market.  Consumer prices are on the rise.  The food you buy to feed your families costs more than it did a month ago and there is a very real danger that meat and produce may be contaminated, since the U.S. Department of Agriculture hasn’t sufficient staff to continue food safety inspections. 

Apart from the government shutdown, we have a plethora of other problems that we seem unable or unwilling to address.  Perhaps the most critical one is that of the environment.  Since the rollback of past environmental regulations that were intended to cut back on carbon emissions, it was reported earlier this week that carbon emissions in the U.S. have increased by 3.4%, not decreased as they needed to.  This is a problem, not only for the United States, but for our neighbors, Mexico and Canada, as well as the rest of the globe. 

The other critical problem facing the nation is that we have lost the trust and respect of our allies, which leaves us in an extremely vulnerable position.  We abandoned our allies when we announced our intent to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, when we exited the Iran nuclear agreement, and more recently when we announced that we would pull all U.S. troops out of Syria, leaving our allies holding the bag.  In addition, our threats to pull out of NATO, our unwarranted criticism of our allies, high import tariffs, and seeming attentiveness toward our adversaries further have our allies wondering whether they could depend on us in case of an emergency.  This is a dangerous situation.

Here at home, we face other problems.

Last year we saw a number of mass shootings in the United States.  113 people were either killed or injured in school shootings alone, and young people are asking us why we don’t do something, why we don’t pass laws to keep guns out of the hands of people with mental problems, of people who are known domestic abusers, why we don’t have stronger gun laws in this country. 

The nation is torn apart by the debate about immigration and a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico.  Border states are particularly torn, for such a wall would limit, if not eliminate trade and tourism between our two countries and would almost certainly cause further political and economic unrest. 

Our education system is failing our young people.  They are not receiving the education they need in order to succeed, to become the next generation of leaders, of scientists, of historians or great inventors.  Instead, we are training them only for specific jobs, thereby severely limiting their options.  

We have fallen far behind other Western nations in the development of renewable energy sources, have become far too dependent on fossil fuels which are causing more damage and destruction to the environment every day.

Bigotry in all its forms is at an all time high in our nation today.  Racial tensions are the highest they have been since the 1960s when people died to gain Civil Rights for African-Americans, for all people.  Rights are being taken away from the LGBT community.  Women’s rights are being trampled.  Muslims are discriminated against openly in public.

Our elections are no longer fair, for almost every state has gerrymandered districts, newly imposed voter identification laws that discriminate against the poor and minorities.  Polling places in poor districts are closed, or in some cases the hours dramatically reduced, making it impossible for a working person in one of those neighborhoods to vote.  Foreign entities have interfered in our elections, often skewing results.  Both domestic and foreign lobbyist firms have influenced elections and now have some of the people sitting in this room tonight in their pockets. All of this has led to voter disenfranchisement and apathy.

And healthcare … drug prices are obscenely inflated in the United States, as are insurance costs.  The ACA has been chipped at to the extent that many can no longer afford their health insurance.  People are sick and dying for lack of money. 

I wish I had better news to report, but frankly, ladies and gentlemen, our nation is in a sorry state today.  I cannot speak for Mr. Trump as to any plans for the coming year, but I have given you a rundown, in brief, of the State of the Nation.  And on that note, I thank you for your time this evening.

What Is A Government For?

When reading yesterday about Trump’s threat to cut off emergency aid to the state of California to assist in its efforts to recover and rebuild after the recent deadly fires, I had to ask … what is a government for, then?  It is highly questionable whether food stamp recipients will receive their food stamps next month.  Farmers are not receiving the subsidies they were promised to help ease the cost of the tariffs that have cut deeply into their revenues.  TSA workers who inspect people and luggage at airports to detect bombs are calling off the job, for they cannot afford to keep working without pay.  Inspections of the food we buy at the grocery store are curtailed.  And the list of services that we pay for, but are being denied, goes on … and on … and on … ad infinitum.

So what is a government for, then?  What is its purpose?  For starters, let’s take a look at the Preamble of the United States Constitution:

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

First off, note that it is “We the People” who established the government.  We the People give the government its legitimacy.  So, when the government no longer does those things … no longer promotes the general welfare, but rather only the welfare of a few wealthy people … then what purpose does it serve?  Is it truly a government of, by and for the people?

Look at that first point in the Preamble … “in order to form a more perfect union”.  This nation is divided as it has never before been.  I’m not sure that even the Civil War era was as divisive as the current environment is.  What’s worse, though, is that the ‘leader’ of this government is the very one who is causing the divisiveness!  The government is doing not one single thing to try to help bring people together, to “form a more perfect union”.

The second point … “establish justice”.  Justice?  The person in the Oval Office has declared himself to be above the law.  Time and time again.  So, think about this for a minute.  If the head of the government is above the law, if most of his political appointees are considered above the law … can there be justice in this nation?  I think not.

The third point … “ensure domestic tranquility”.  Can you even say that phrase without either laughing or crying?  Domestic tranquility?  What the Sam Heck is that???

Fourth point … “provide for the common defense”.  Let’s ponder for a minute … does constant and unwarranted criticism of our allies, denigration of such peacekeeping organizations as the United Nations and NATO make us safer?  Does the pandering to strong-arm dictators like Putin, Erdoğan, Kim, and Duterte make us safer?  Better yet, does the domestic hotbed that exists in this nation make us safer?  I think not.

Fifth point … “promote the general welfare”.  This is another that would be laughable, if only the laughter didn’t turn to tears.  General welfare???  800,000+ people not getting paid?  Food stamps reduced or eliminated?  Trash overflowing in national parks?  People losing their homes?  Food growers unable to meet their mortgage payments?  A nation in chaos does not … I repeat, NOT … promote the general welfare.

And finally, the sixth point … “secure liberty and posterity”.  Liberty?  From what?  Liberty from tyranny comes to mind, but we have the most tyrannical leader in the history of the nation, so that can’t be right.  Liberty to … go to work without pay?  To watch our infrastructure crumble beneath our feet?  To listen to the self-promoting lies of a madman?  And posterity … defined as “all future generations of people”.  Given the government’s stance on climate change and the devastating effects, there aren’t likely to be too many future generations of people.

I return to my original question:  What is government for?  Whatever it was intended to be for, it no longer fulfills those responsibilities.  What do we do about this?

Think about it.

Good People Doing Good Things — National Park Volunteers

As a result of the Trump government shutdown, some 800,000+ federal employees are either furloughed from their jobs, else are asked to continue working without immediate compensation and with only the hope of back pay at some elusive date in the future.  Among those who are on furlough are the employees of the national parks around the nation.Trash-overflowing.jpgWith nobody to empty trash, clean restrooms, move debris from public areas, the parks were, after nearly three weeks untended, falling into a state of disrepair.  But last week, some good people took notice.  Let me introduce you to just a few …


Mike Skelton is the owner of Yellowstone Wonders, a company that offers tours of Yellowstone National Park.  Last week, with the holidays in the rearview mirror, Mike noticed a serious buildup of trash in the park.yellowstone-4

“We all live here. When it gets down to it, it is our park and it belongs to all of us in this country.”

Yellowstone-3.jpgAnd with that, he gathered a few other local residents and got to work.  They brushed snow off entrances, cleaned toilets, replaced toilet paper and switched out garbage bags, and they’ll likely do it again most weekends, if the shutdown continues.  The first day, Saturday, Mr. Skelton was joined by about 15 volunteers, but the next day, Sunday, there were 40!  Some volunteers brought supplies from home or bought them along the way.yellowstone-2In addition to individuals lending a hand, dozens of small businesses located in proximity to Yellowstone National Park have all chipped in thousands of dollars to keep the park open and tidy during the winter tourist season … they even offer free pizza to the volunteers!


gsm-signIn Tennessee, Marc Newland and his 10-year-old daughter Erica have spent their days in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, hiking the mountain trails with trash bags in hand so they can pick up litter along the way. gsm-3The Newlands have always been avid hikers, but when Marc told his daughter about how the shutdown would affect the mountain park, she suggested that they take it upon themselves to keep the trails tidy.

“Erica says that she would like to challenge other hikers to take one day off from getting in miles and impressive vista pics and instead, give back by grabbing a trash bag, heading to the park and collecting some litter!! These mountains give so much to so many people. Imagine if only a fraction of those people decided to give back to the mountains.”


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Ever hear of Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA)?  It is a Maryland-based organization that regularly organizes community service cleaning efforts across the country, and presently they are mobilizing to clean up in Joshua Tree National Park, Everglades National Park, the National Mall, and Independence Hall in Philadelphia and Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio.

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Joshua Tree National Park – California

At least 70 members of the group emptied overflowing trash cans, picked up piles of litter and swept the streets over the weekend.  Young.  Muslim.  Men.  The ones who so many call terrorists … are picking up trash in order to keep our national parks clean.  Think about that one for a minute, if you will.


These are but a few of the groups and individuals who are stepping up to the plate during the Trump shutdown to help keep things running smoothly.  Unfortunately, due to a weekend incident where park visitors damaged trees while driving off-road, Joshua Tree National Park is now closed to visitors.  Had park rangers been on the job, the incident likely would not have happened.

Nonetheless, there are thousands of people out there volunteering to pick up the slack left by the Trump shutdown, and I, for one, am grateful to them.  The parks belong to us all, and we should offer kudos to these fine volunteers for helping to take care of the parks so that we can continue to enjoy them.  Thank you ALL!!!

Collision Course

Our friend Hugh’s post tonight is spot on … not a post that’s going to make you chuckle and hum a happy tune, but certainly one with a message that we all need to hear … again and again … until we wake up. Thank you Hugh, for the reminder, and for giving me carte blanche to share your work.

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I suggested in a response I made to a comment on a previous post that humanity is most assuredly on a collision course between global warming, on the one hand, and the expanding human population, on the other hand. The irony of ironies is that the growing human population seems to be, for the most part, oblivious to both of these problems! Perhaps it is denial on a grand scale? To be sure, most of us would prefer to ignore unpleasant facts. But be that as it may, the two opposing forces cannot possibly survive together. Something must give.

As long as we continue to think it is better to drive our gas-guzzlers and turn up the thermostat rather than ride a bike, drive smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, or put on a sweater when we are cold — while at the same time we embrace the notion that large families…

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A New Project!

Hello friends!

I have been thinking (yes, yes, I know that’s a dangerous thing and trust me, I keep the fire extinguisher close at hand) and I have an idea for a little project that I’d like to run by you.

We know the damage, at least some of it, that Trump and his irresponsible foreign ‘policies’ have done to our reputation, our image abroad from the view of foreign news media and statements by leaders of nations.  But I would like to call on some of my blogging buddies from other nations to kick in their two cents worth as citizens of those nations.

I have blogging friends in Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, India, Ghana, and Kenya, and I would really like their take on the United States now, with the government shut-down and the looming threat of a national ‘state of emergency’ that will give Trump autocratic powers.

So I’m calling on my friends outside the U.S. — would you be interested in writing a short guest post to be featured here, giving us your own view of the United States as it stands today, with an eye toward our immigration issues, environmental issues (the Paris Accord), the government shutdown, the recent 2018 elections, and any other issues you might like to mention or address?  The more the merrier … I am genuinely interested in your take on this, and also how you think our recent behaviour has affected your own corner of the world.

I will be asking a few of you with whom I regularly correspond via email, but I want anyone and everyone who is interested to participate!  C’mon guys, it’ll be fun!  I only ask that you keep it relatively clean  😄 and preferably to no more than 1,200 words.

A Wall or a White Elephant?

Back in June 2017, the BBC did an excellent, in-depth and well-researched report about the problems associated with Trump’s proposed ‘big, beautiful wall’ that Mexico isn’t going to pay for.  It is worth visiting at this time, when Trump’s demands that his wall be funded have caused a partial shutdown of our government and have contributed to a tumbling stock market.  What is the reality about building the wall?  What is the likely cost?  What are some of the hurdles?

I want to share some of the more salient points, and you can read the entire report using the link (above). The report breaks it down into six areas:


1. The geography is pretty unfriendly

In fact, the actual border is, in many places, defined as the deepest channel of the river. Building a wall in the middle of the Rio Grande would be challenging for obvious reasons, but there are also legal issues. A treaty signed by Mexico and the US in 1889 prevents any disruption to the flow of the river, meaning any border wall would probably have to be built on its banks. This, again, presents obvious problems.

While two thirds of its length runs along rivers, the southern US border also bisects other challenging environments – desert in California and Arizona and mountains in New Mexico.

In eastern California, there are the Algodones – or Imperial Sand Dunes – the largest sand dune ecosystem in the US. There is already a section of “floating fence” here, specifically engineered to work with the shifting sands, installed by the George W Bush administration.sand dunesMeanwhile, Arizona and New Mexico are mountainous. Coronado National Forest, in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico, has several 9,000-ft peaks.

A wall appears impossible here.border-1The US-Mexico border has a delicate ecosystem that could be disrupted by any new barrier. A wall would prevent animals reaching their hunting lands, water sources and migration corridors. Grey wolves and jaguars hunt on both sides of the border. Other cross-border populations of wildlife include bison, bighorn sheep, ocelots and bears.

2. The price tag will be rather huge

Mr Trump’s initial price tag of between $8bn and $12bn has been widely disputed.

The 650 miles of fencing built under President George W Bush cost an estimated $7bn, and it could not be described as fulfilling Mr Trump’s promises of a “tall, powerful, beautiful” barrier.

A number of very different estimates have been put forward by other official bodies.

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It should be noted that the costs in the Senate Democrats’ report are based on information provided by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP).

3. Actually building it is really difficult

In addition to the complex structural work, there is the surveying, land acquisition and access road-building.

Inviting companies to submit designs, the FedBizOpps.gov website stated the “cost-effective” structure must be made of reinforced concrete and:

Be “physically imposing in height”, towering at least 18ft above the border
Be impossible to breach with a ladder or grappling hooks and require at least an hour to breach with tools
Be sunk at least 6ft into the ground to prevent tunnelling
Blend in with the “surrounding environment” and be “aesthetically pleasing” from the north side
Include 25ft and 50ft gates for pedestrians and vehicles

However, the government, alongside its call for concrete wall designs, has asked for submissions for a “see-through component/capability” that “facilitates situational awareness”. This appears to suggest that the government is considering building out of materials other than concrete.

4. Trying to get hold of the land could be a nightmare

In order to build the wall, the government needs permission to use the land it stands on. However, about 66% of land along the US-Mexico border is either owned privately, by Native Americans or by individual states. In these cases, the government will need to coordinate mass voluntary sales of property or negotiate a right of way for the wall along large swaths of land.

Thousands of homeowners could be affected, including ranchers in Texas – among them Donald Trump supporters – who rely on access to the Rio Grande and pastures for their livestock. Trying to purchase this land could be a major challenge and if people refuse, the government would have to forcibly get hold of it.

Welcome to the term “eminent domain”. Eminent domain is a system used to gain ownership of private property for public use, such as for highways and railroads, usually accompanied by compensation. It has been used for the construction of border fences in the past.

Gerald S Dickinson, assistant professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh Law School, has warned that such eminent domain fights could take years.  Any federal eminent domain action on such a large scale against even a few landowners could trigger “decades of court disputes before anything is built”.

The proprietors of Tribal lands have already voiced firm opposition. The Tohono O’odham Nation owns much of such land, including a reservation that extends along 75 miles of the border in Arizona. Tribe members still live on both sides of the border, considering the territory their ancestral lands, and have indicated they will attempt to block construction if the wall goes ahead. Should that happen, Mr Trump would need a bill from Congress to acquire the land, which is currently protected under law.

5. It needs regular patrols to make it work

Homeland Security secretary, John F Kelly, has himself said that a “physical barrier will not do the job” and that you would have to back it up with patrolling human beings, sensors and observation devices.Tony-Estrada.png

“These people are coming from thousands and thousands of miles at great expense and in great danger. They have been victimised most of the way. Do you think a wall is gonna stop them? No, it’s just going to be another obstacle.” – Tony Estrada,Santa Cruz County Sheriff

6. U.S. and Mexican border towns rely on each other.  

Sealing off the border would also affect the economies of border towns and affect the wider US-Mexican economy – something many US politicians would be keen to avoid.

Communities along the US side of the border have developed close and dependant economic relationships with their sister cities in Mexico. Many Mexican towns are home to US factories employing thousands of people and Mexican shoppers spend billions of dollars in US border states every year.

The wall could also impact on the wider US-Mexico economic relationship too. Mexico is America’s second largest export market and America is Mexico’s largest.  The two countries have a “very deep” economic relationship, explains Christopher Wilson, deputy director of the Mexico Institute at the think-tank the Wilson Center, with five million US jobs depending on it. The Wilson Center’s research suggests that if trade between the US and Mexico were halted, 4.9 million Americans would be out of work.

The two economies are now so interconnected, Mr Wilson says, that they no longer just sell finished products to each other, but instead “actually build products together”.


The facts, I believe, speak for themselves and Trump’s dream of a ‘big, beautiful wall’ is more aptly a white elephant.  The scheme is reckless and irresponsible and should not have been allowed to shut down parts of the federal government, putting over 300,000 people out of work and causing another 400,000 to be forced to work without pay.  Unconscionable.  white_elephant