Trump Administration Delays Construction of Border Wall in Arizona Wildlife Preserve
The Trump administration is delaying construction on its long-promised border wall that would cut through protected stretches of the Arizona desert.
The Department of Homeland Security was scheduled to replace waist-high barriers with taller fencing in a wildlife refuge, national monument and conservation area later this month. However, government attorneys filed a brief this week that construction will be delayed until October.
Authorities plan on using funds earmarked for the Department of Defense that have been slotted for national emergencies, as the AP reported. In February, President Trump declared a national emergency at the southern border, claiming that a border wall is needed to stop a mounting security and humanitarian crisis.
Since then, conservation groups have sued the administration for waiving environmental laws and unnecessarily diverting Pentagon money to rush wall construction through protected areas, according to the Arizona Daily Star.
The latest filing is a part of a response in a pending lawsuit by three conservation groups. The environmentally conscious groups claim construction and presence of a wall in those areas would harm endangered or threatened species.
Last week, the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, asked a federal judge to stop construction on 68 miles of wall in three Arizona federal preserves: Cabeza Prieta, Organ Pipe and the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. The injunction request says the government unlawfully ignored dozens of laws and that the new barriers will damage wildlife habitat, as the Arizona Republic reported.
"It's a small but important victory for public lands and wildlife," said Laiken Jordahl, borderlands campaigner for the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity, as the Arizona Daily Star reported. "Every day the project is delayed is a good day."
He added that the court filing amounted to a "de facto injunction" that will "give the judge a chance to rule on the merits of the case before irreparable harm is done."
The government claims the replacement fencing is crucial to protecting national security and it will proceed with construction on a two-mile stretch near an official border crossing beginning next week, according to the AP.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund and Defenders of Wildlife joined the Center for Biological Diversity in filing for an emergency injunction to delay the start of construction of a border wall.
"It's senseless to let bulldozers rip a permanent scar through our borderlands' wildlife refuges and national monuments before the court decides whether the waiver is legal," said Jean Su, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. "Trump's ignoring laws and diverting funds to build this destructive border wall. His grotesque barrier would destroy some of the border's most spectacular and biologically diverse places. We'll do everything in our power to stop that."
If a federal judge sides with the government, then construction on the wall may continue. However, if the judge rules in favor of the plaintiffs, it could postpone construction for a long time, possibly permanently. The Center for Biological Diversity claims that construction in the federal preserves violates the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act and other laws that protect air and water quality on public lands and the animals that live there, as the Arizona Republic reports.
"Every American should be outraged that the border wall in Arizona will be built across some of our most iconic national wildlife refuges and national park lands," said Bryan Bird, southwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife, in a press release. "It will tear through lands so precious that Congress chose to protect them for all American's posterity and enjoyment. Defenders will continue to fight to stop this abuse."
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Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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