RIO GRANDE VALLEY: Among the many that will be affected by Trump’s border wall are butterflies!
Mission, located in the lower Rio Grande Valley, is home to the National Butterfly Center, a private non-profit 100-acre (40-hectare) preserve dedicated to the conservation of the insects in their natural habitat. But the wall – a key plank of President Donald Trump’s immigration policy – could end up chopping the area in half, and severely complicate any work being done to save the butterflies that flutter through. “This land used to be an onion field,” explains Luciano Guerra, who is responsible for education outreach at the center. “We converted it back to native habitat.
“And when we created the habitat for the butterflies, we also attracted birds because the birds like to eat the butterflies and the caterpillars. Then we attracted things that eat the birds, and so on.” In the end, more than 200 species have been counted here. In spring and autumn, “we can have 80 to 100 species of butterflies here in one day,” Guerra says. Among those are the easily recognizable monarch, with its black and orange wings; the queen butterfly, native to North and South America; and the bright orange passion butterfly.
Along the banks of the Rio Grande, which forms a natural border with Mexico, there are also bobcats, coyotes, javelinas or skunk pigs, armadillos, and Texas turtles. Building a wall here would be “devastating,” the center says on its website. Marianna Trevino Wright, the center’s executive director, traveled to Washington to plead her case with lawmakers. The funding for the part of the wall that would run through the nature preserve – unlike the money at the heart of a political showdown in the US capital – was approved last year.
According to the Center, construction of the 33-mile (50-kilometer) stretch of barrier could begin in late February. Trevino Wright impressed upon lawmakers (mainly Democrats) that the wall project is in violation of multiple environmental protection laws. The wall and the glaring spotlights that would come with it will disrupt the “nocturnal activities of all plants and animals, transforming what is now a vibrant but endangered ecosystem into a biological desert,” she said. “People say, ‘Well, the butterflies can fly over it or fly through it or around it.’ “Not necessarily,” explains Guerra.
“Some butterflies fly lower to the ground – they could not go over that 18-foot concrete wall.” Moreover, “when the bulldozers come in to clear the way for the border wall, they’re going to knock down trees, plants, grasses and so on, which are host plants for the butterfly species we have here,” he added. Those trees also are the home of several species of birds, especially in the spring, and some mammals risk seeing their natural habitat destroyed – or being hit by construction vehicles, Guerra warned.
The center has filed suit against the federal government, claiming their private property rights are being violated. “Chances are the lawsuit will not get heard, will not go to court until after the wall has already been built,” Guerra admitted. He says he is frustrated and believes that Trump is exaggerating the extent of the crisis on the border. “If there was a crisis, I wouldn’t be living here,” he said matter-of-factly.
Philippines jolted by 6.3 magnitude quake, 5 dead
MANILA: A strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck the Philippines island of Luzon killing five on Monday afternoon.
The quake struck at 5.11pm local time (0911 GMT) at a shallow depth of 40 kilometers (25 miles). Reporters in the capital city Manila said central offices were evacuated and buildings were shaking.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. The Philippines is part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from quake-prone Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.
Relevant piece: Five people were killed when at least two buildings collapsed near Manila after a powerful earthquake set skyscrapers swaying and drove terrified locals into the street.
Three bodies have been pulled out of a four-story building in the town of Porac, while a woman and her grandchild were crushed to death in the town of Lubao, Lilia Pineda, governor of Pampanga province told ABS-CBN television.
“We believe there are still people trapped in the four-story building,” Pineda said, adding 20 people have so far been rescued and taken to hospital as night fell.
“It’s difficult because there is no power, so we’re still trying to get hold of a generator to be able to rescue the people inside,” she added.
A strong quake with a magnitude of 6.3 struck the region at 5:11 pm (0911 GMT) according to the US Geological Survey.
The quake that rumbled across the northern Philippines caused skyscrapers to sway, as they are designed to do, in Manila.
It also caused serious damage to the capital’s secondary Clark Airport, which is located on the site of the former US military installation that lies about an hour’s drive north of the capital.
The damage was still being assessed, but residents posted photos on social of media showing cracked walls and light fixtures swinging in the moments after the quake.
Office workers piled out onto the streets as emergency alarms blared, AFP reporters saw.
Feliza Villanueva, 21, a business process outsourcing employee told AFP she and four colleagues were at work when the quake struck.
“This was the second strongest quake I’ve felt in my entire life,” she told AFP as she joined hundreds of others in the courtyard of an office building, waiting for the all clear.
“We were worried but we did not panic,” she said.
“We planned how to evacuate the building. There were too many people going down the stairs, so we waited for our turn. People looked in shock, but no one was shouting or anything like that,” she said.
Int’l Earth Day aims to inspire and appreciation for Earth’s environment
ISLAMABAD: A renowned Environmentalist Taufeeq Pasha on Monday said in connection with International ‘Mother Earth Day’ that this is a day which aims to inspire awareness and appreciation about Earth’s environment.
In an interview, he said April 22nd Earth Day is usually celebrated with outdoor performances, where individuals or groups perform acts of service to Earth,typical ways of observing Earth Day include planting trees, picking up roadside trash, conducting various programs for recycling and conservation, and using recyclable containers for snacks and lunches.
Responding to a question he said some people are encouraged for calling stronger or immediate action to stop global warming and to reverse environmental destruction.
He said television stations frequently air programs dealing with environmental issues adding that this day to promote ecology and respect for life on the planet as well as to encourage awareness of the growing problems of air, water, and soil pollution.
He said symbols used by people to describe Earth Day include an image or drawing of planet earth, a tree, a flower, leaves, or the recycling symbol. Adding that colors used for Earth Day include natural colors such as green, brown, or blue.
Govt. to assist rain-affected farmers
ISLAMABAD: Government has promised to take all administrative and relief measures to help farmers hit by rain-related incidents, as a special relief package will soon be announced for the farmers whose crops were damaged in rains.
Minister for National Food and Security Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan expressed concern over the problems faced by farmers due to abnormal weather conditions.
He said the government would take all possible measures to facilitate the people related to farming so as to benefit from the potential of this sector.
The government has been successful in bringing about awareness amongst farmers through new initiatives taken for the development of the agriculture sector in the country, he added.
Minister said the PTI led government was doing its best to estimate the damages to the crops as well as human losses in the rains at the earliest.
He said the damage caused to standing crops due to heavy rains is moderate and there is no likelihood of food insecurity or emergency situation thereof.
The met department has been directed to remain vigilant and maintain liaison with provincial agriculture departments for the timely weather forecast, he mentioned.