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Photograph by Susanne Neunhoeffer

They Know the Drill: 'Oil on Ice' filmmakers Dale Djerassi and Bo Boudart, shown here with caribou biologist Kem Whitten, will show their film about the debate over oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge at the Rio Thursday.


Gassy President

So President Bush does have a pump-price relief plan, after all. No, we're not referring to Bob Woodward's claim that Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan promised Dubya the Saudis would lower oil prices before the election. Nor are we talking about reports the United States pressured OPEC to boost production as oil prices rose to over $40 a barrel.

What we're on about here is Bush's plan to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a plan that involves drilling bang slap in the middle of the calving grounds of the Porcupine Caribou herd, on which the Gwich'in Indians depend for subsistence.

As crazy as drilling in a wildlife refuge might sound to you and me, it apparently sounded perfectly pretzel-logical to Dubya, who was doubtless hoping that the 191 million Americans who collectively drive 204 million cars would be more likely to elect him this time around if oil was cheap.

As filmmaker Dale Djerassi points out, Dubya actually campaigned on the need to drill in the refuge, which is why Djerassi decided to go and visit it shortly after the 2000 election.

The result of Djerassi's trip, which involved going down the Hula Hula River, camping on a sandbar in the Beaufort Sea and visiting a Gwich'in Indian village, is the hour-long Oil on Ice, which neatly debunks any myths that arctic Alaska is barren, by capturing caribou, musk oxen, Dall sheep, wolves, weasels and bears, not to mention 180 species of migratory birds, on film, all while showing how the midnight sun never sets in this region, and how it can even snow on the summer solstice.

Delving into previous attempts to drill in this refuge--which began in 1989 under Bush Sr. and were thwarted when the Exxon Valdez ran aground--Oil on Ice also shows how the current Bush administration pushed to open drilling in arctic Alaska's coastal plain, claiming it wanted to reduce our dependency on foreign oil while at the same time ganging up to defeat John Kerry's attempts to increase fuel efficiency standards.

Nüz mentions all this because Djerassi will be at the Rio this Thursday, along with Oil on Ice videographer Bo Boudart and Gwich'in Indian Adeline Peter Raboff, who'll give a presentation titled "Eating Caribou," based on her experiences of hunting caribou when she was a little girl.

Raboff will also explain how to make Caribou hoof rattles, even though her tribe was prohibited from doing this activity for decades, thanks to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which also didn't let Indians speak their own languages at school.

"In Canada, the Indians were allowed to keep their native names and do their dances, which is what the rattles were for, but in Alaska we weren't, so rattle-making died out from the 1950s," explains Raboff, who believes, "People should take the time to inform themselves about what's at stake and about the many energy options available, of which drilling the refuge is only one." Oil on Ice plays the Rio Theatre (1205 Soquel Ave., SC) on Thursday, May 27, at 7pm. Call 831.420.6115 for details.

If at First You Can't Impeach ...

When local resident and activist Sherry Conable got a letter from U.S. Rep. Sam Farr last month, in which Farr roundly condemned Bush's actions, she thought the honorable congressmember was finally signaling a willingness to lead the Impeach Bush Brigade up and onto Capitol Hill.

But, as Farr reiterated in a more recent letter, "it's not reasonable to expect that any impeachment inquiry will be convened by this Republican Majority Congress. I desire a new direction in our government as much as you. However, to achieve that change, I believe efforts expended on impeachment are ineffective and would be better directed elsewhere."

As for the abuse at Abu Ghraib, about which Conable also wrote Farr, the Samster replied with a long list of steps he is taking, which include supporting HR 627 (which condemns the abuse of those in U.S. custody in Iraq), asking the General Accounting Office to investigate the use of private military firms by the Department of Defense and the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, and requesting that the Justice Department conduct an investigation into any and all alleged abuses by private contractors at Abu Ghraib Prison and other detention facilities in Iraq.

As for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Farr admitted he was appalled that Rummy could not respond to U.S. Sen. John McCain's request that he identify who in the chain of command gave the orders that led to the prisoner abuse.

"There must be accountability for these reprehensible acts and I call on Secretary Rumsfeld to take responsibility for these heinous acts and submit his resignation as the honorable thing to do," wrote Farr.

... Defeat Again

Meanwhile, 95 percent of the membership of LaptopLobbyist.com, which describes itself as "America's leading network of online conservative activists" and which helped pass the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, ban partial birth abortion, block FDA approval of the Plan B Morning After Pill, halt the CBS documentary on Ronald Reagan and boycott Bad Santa, doesn't think Rummy should resign.

According to online postings by LaptopLobbyist members, "the political and media elite is very likely overplaying its hand on the Abu Ghraib issue," Rummy's resignation would "trigger a far left feeding frenzy" and the "liberals in the media and in Congress ought to stop whining about the resignation of Rumsfeld and start demanding the eradication of the butchers who murdered Nick Berg." Indeed, according to one such lobbyist, "Ted Kennedy committed a worse crime in his car than our soldiers did with a dog leash."

All of which suggests that Conable and anyone who'd like to say fare thee well to Bush may want to redirect efforts to any number of pro-Kerry orgs, including ReDefeatBush.com, which is starting a local phone bank to call women who aren't registered in Oregon. Why Oregon? "Because it's a swing state," says local activist Becky Ray, who encourages people to bring their cell phones and help her call Oregon on weekday nights. According to Ray, funds for calling swing states are raised by selling ReDefeatBush buttons, bumper stickers and condoms, which come with a natty "Don't get screwed again" motto. Call 831.429.4136 for more information.

Nüz just loves juicy tips: Drop a line to 115 Cooper St, Santa Cruz, 95060, email us at , or call our hotline at 457.9000, ext 214.

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From the May 26-June 2, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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