‘Firefall’ Is One Reason We Need To Protect National Parks

You need to see it to believe it

Image via Flickr/Jay Huang

In the (approximate) words of TLC, don’t go chasing waterfalls when you could be chasing firefalls. If you head to Yosemite National Park’s famous El Capitan summit at the right time of day during the right time of year, you’ll witness one of nature’s most spectacular phenomena. Each year, toward the end of February, visitors at Horsetail Fall crowd around to watch what appears to be hot magma flowing from El Capitan’s rocky cliffside. In actuality, the mesmerizing scene is an optical illusion created by the precise way sunlight lands on the otherwise average waterfall during the seasonal transition from late winter to early spring.

While natural occurrences like the firefall should make the argument to preserve public parks easy, tea party Republicans have recently launched new attacks. This past January, Republican legislators moved to pass the bill HR 621 that would sell off 3.3 million acres of national land—that’s roughly the size of the state of Connecticut. In a press release, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the bill’s sponsor, claimed that public parks serve “no purpose for taxpayers.” But, as the Guardian reports, departments that manage federal lands (like the Bureau of Land Management, for instance) create American jobs to the tune of 6.1 million. Of course, national parks bring innumerable benefits to the table—from wildlife preserves to recreation and ecological diversity—that GOP congressmen continually fail to recognize.

After conservation groups and concerned citizens rallied in opposition to HR 621, Chaffetz backed off the bill on February 1 via a statement on Instagram. While that’s a nice gesture, Chaffetz’s statement has virtually no effect on the bill since it continues to pass through the motions and was referred to the Subcommittee on Federal Lands on February 10. According to a report by the Congressional Research Service,

“Once a measure has been numbered and referred, it becomes the property of the House and cannot be modified by the sponsor. It is too late at this point to make any changes to the bill—however cosmetic they might be—except by amending the bill on the House floor during its consideration. Introduced bills or resolutions can be taken up by the House even if the sponsor resigns from the House or dies.”

Put simply, don’t waste your time directing voodoo powers at Chaffetz since the bill’s outcome is largely out of his hands at this point. While it’s safe to say we’d all rather be enjoying national parks while we still can, we’ll need to keep a close eye on HR 621 as it moves through Congress and prevent similar bills from making any headway.

In the meantime, if you can’t see Horsetail Fall in person, check out this year’s most awe-inspiring photos and send a few to your representatives next time they threaten to privatize public land. You know they will.

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

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In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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The Planet
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

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via Twitter / Bye,Bye Harley Davidson

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So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?

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