John Christopher Fine
is a marine biologist with two doctoral degrees, has authored 24 books, including award-winning books dealing with ocean pollution. He is a liaison officer of the United Nations Environment Program and the Confederation Mondiale for ocean matters. He is a member of the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences in honor of his books in the field of education. He has received international recognition for his pioneering work investigating toxic waste contamination of our land and water.
Latest by John Christopher Fine
By John Christopher Fine | December 12, 2013
New York City was covered with a soft blanket of white. Snow stopped falling. White dusted the esplanade on Park Avenue. Christmas decorations glistened at every pedestrian entrance to stately buildings. People huddled in their scarves and mufflers, rushing home in the cold crisp air. The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel stood out in the cold. Flags unfurled, doormen whistling down taxi cabs, people coming and going. It is an American landmark. An oasis in midtown Manhattan. An icon of beautiful construction that mixes art-deco with turn of the century opulence.
There is always something going on at the Waldorf. Banquets, parties, events, conventions. The complex takes up an entire city block between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue east and west and 49th …
By John Christopher Fine | December 6, 2013
Pacific Fins Resort and Marina is an oasis along Guatemala’s western coast. The area boasts volcanic black sand beaches, small fishing towns, a modern container port and big game fishing. Billfishing in Guatemala is world class, sometimes called the Sailfish Capital of the World.
The owner is the son of a Danish father and Guatemalan mother. Niels Erichsen speaks perfect, colloquial English. He welcomes guests personally. His staff is all bilingual and the hospitality for which this Central American nation is known predominates any visit.
The resort is located on a canal that leads out into the Pacific Ocean. Niels has five deep-sea fishing vessels, all fully equipped for billfishing with a staff of experienced captains. The resort is intimate. …
By John Christopher Fine | November 5, 2013
Highway 14 A off Interstate 90 leads through mountain passes into town. It is a modern road. Beautiful monuments bid welcome coming down into the gulch where once a rowdy settlement housed thousands of miners in 1875. Much has been written about this historic town’s early frontier days. A fictional film series portrayed it as a city of vice, corruption and evil where murderous thugs ruled by force and power.
Deadwood has settled down some since frontier days although gambling has been legalized and casinos dot the landscape everywhere. Revenue from casino gambling enabled the city to restore and improve many landmarks in town. There are luxury hotels and fine restaurants, inns and boarding houses. Historic Main Street’s brick buildings …
By John Christopher Fine | November 4, 2013
There is something about roadside America that highways haven’t completely quelled. Gone are the scenic byways along two lane roads that crossed the country. Automobile travel was an adventure shared by the whole family. Kids in the back would harp about things they wanted to see, parents would look for antique stores and curio shops. Life was carefree if not careless and a nickel went a long way, especially since gasoline was something like 25 cents a gallon.
Undaunted by the cost of living, Hustead’s Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota still brags about their coffee for 5 cents, free for veterans and people in service. Ice water is still free as is the playground, which in fact is …
By John Christopher Fine | October 30, 2013
“Each missile had a two megaton warhead. That is 60% of all the munitions used by every country in World War II including the two Atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima,” Butch Davis said. Butch is an Interpretive Ranger at Flight D-01; Delta flight. The control center remains as evidence of America’s Cold War installations of Minuteman missiles in the Badlands of South Dakota.
Two Minuteman warheads held more explosive power than all munitions used in the most devastating war in history. It gave time to pause, to let the ranger’s words sink in. To try to imagine the situation in 1962 when President John F. Kennedy nearly plunged the world into World War III and could have destroyed …
By John Christopher Fine | October 27, 2013
Any that have ever used a chain saw can attest to the fact that it is not always easy to make straight cuts let alone work the tip of its whirling blade to get to difficult areas. Watching Jarrett Dahl work his magic in Keystone, South Dakota, about two miles from Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, is fascinating. He took a five foot tall Ponderosa pine log, bark and all, and in a half-hour had an eagle carving roughed out in perfect form. Jarrett made it look easy.
Visitors to Mt. Rushmore and Keystone, SD pass by Dahl’s Chainsaw Art. One cannot help notice the lawn above Battle Creek is planted with carved sculptures. Some are two stories high, some exotic, …
By John Christopher Fine | October 23, 2013
With a population of about 68,000, Rapid City, South Dakota is the state’s second largest city. The reluctant hero in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1959 film ‘North By Northwest,’ flew into Rapid from Chicago. He was on the trail of a paramour that helped him get away from the police in New York City after being framed for the murder of a United Nations diplomat. The intrigue brings the couple, portrayed by Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint, over the brink of Mt. Rushmore.
A lot has changed since the film was made but many things are still recognizable. The austere granite faces still hold fascination for millions of tourists every year and Rapid City’s modernized airport is still a major …
By John Christopher Fine | October 20, 2013
Why do established companies move? How do foreign companies determine where to locate their U.S. operations? Where do new start-ups decide on setting up operations? The answers are obvious yet so many populous states and cities on the east and west coasts don’t get it. They don’t want to get it. There is an entrenched system of corrupt politicians supported by payoffs from organized crime that control trade unions, waste hauling, service industries, and vice. Racketeers are protected by officials they corrupt. Companies are shaken down, their employees intimidated, bribes have to be paid, municipal inspectors have their hand out and businesses are ambushed every step along the way to derail profits.
Belle Fourche, South Dakota is in the geographical …
By John Christopher Fine | October 17, 2013
Deadwood, South Dakota is legendary. It wasn’t the raucous television series that made the town, it was gold. When gold was discovered in Deadwood Gulch in 1875, it was the California gold rush all over again. Trouble was the Black Hills were Indian Territory and whites were barred from trespassing by virtue of the Fort Laramie Treaty with the Lakota tribes.
Deadwood became a shanty town, then a lawless settlement, then the center for all manner of vice until and even after the city was organized and annexed. Miners, prospectors, entrepreneurs of all manner and description melded with road agents, gun slingers, gamblers and prostitutes that provided their needs and desires. Eventually Deadwood was tamed. Homestake Mine continued to turn …
By John Christopher Fine | October 15, 2013
The entrance to the Adoba Hotel on Mt. Rushmore Road in Rapid City, South Dakota is prelude to art appreciation and fine dining. A large two-inch thick stone and marble mosaic inlaid into the lobby entrance floor replicates the faces carved on Mt. Rushmore, 30 minutes away. Fine art decorates the walls of this new concept for an eco-friendly hotel where every effort is made to create a healthy environment for guests.
“Glues used in carpets give off fumes. We have removed room carpets and replaced them with non-glued new carpet squares that fit together. Everything has been rebuilt so the rooms are not only comfortable but healthy and environmentally friendly,” Karim Merali, the owner explained.
We entered Enigma Restaurant …
By John Christopher Fine | October 14, 2013
“Do you have your room key?” Jerry asked. He was collecting towels at the pool. We’d met the night before when he worked an event in the hotel’s convention center. The key card had an original picture of the buildings once owned by Homestake Mine.
“See this building here? That’s where my aunt and uncle lived. They raised five children in the apartment over the garage.” Jerry epitomized the warmth and friendliness of Deadwood Mountain Grand employees.
Deadwood Mountain Grand Resort, now affiliated with Holiday Inn, was created in historic buildings used by Homestake Mine to refine gold from crushed ore and slurry. The complex is built into a hill overlooking Deadwood, South Dakota. The buildings were largely abandoned, most …
By John Christopher Fine | October 12, 2013
The baby horse stuck its hoof up in the air as if to say ‘I am not going to step in that mud.’ The little filly was born to a mare in the Catnip herd in Lantry, South Dakota. Its mother was attentive; an aunt gathered near when movement of other horses threatened the baby. Perfect in every way, the little horse had a white body, autumn haze brown shield over her left eye, dainty yet perfectly formed white legs with little pearl colored hooves. A shield formed part of her chest.
“Not one in 700 births is a medicine hat. Indian warriors believed that to ride such a horse in combat made them invulnerable to injury or death,” Karen …
By John Christopher Fine | September 25, 2013
Organized crime is defined by modern law to mean the association of people in pursuit of criminal activity. The Chief Assistant District Attorney in New York County and head of the Rackets Bureau under legendary DA Frank S. Hogan, Alfred J. Scotti, considered organized crime a purely American brand of criminal activity. He was of Italian ancestry and like many Italo-Americans resented labels Washington bureaucrats put on racketeering.
Obese and most often incompetent federal officials, desk bound all of their working lives, conducted hearings and drew up organizational charts that started a trend to label racketeers as Mafia or members of La Cosa Nostra. At one important Senate hearing the southern born U.S. Attorney General couldn’t even pronounce it correctly. …
By John Christopher Fine | September 23, 2013
The double cross has been perfected by politicians. No longer do we live in a world of honor and stability. Anglo-Saxon treachery saw Irish starvation then removal in 1846-1847. History recorded heartless and blatant murder of peasants while ample foodstuffs, cattle, hogs and grains were shipped to England in English ships. The Irish potato famine remains a disgrace even to this day. Earlier in time that heritage was brought to America where English rule saw injustices and cruelty practiced on settlers and indigenous people.
Native Americans were double crossed over and over by profiteers and lying politicians. Their land taken when gold was discovered. Infected blankets given them that wiped out whole populations with smallpox and infectious diseases. This extermination …
By John Christopher Fine | September 21, 2013
Little Rock rocked with activity. It was as if the spotlight of world attention focused on the Arkansas state capitol once more as the anniversary of the desegregation of Central High School unfolded. Former presidents and presidential hopefuls, the governor and former governors, members of Congress and former members of Congress, mayors and dignitaries from around the nation gathered to pay tribute to nine older Americans whose historic walk through the gauntlets of violent and angry mobs, escorted by troops of the 101st Airborne Division, marked American history forever.
Central High School, a former Mobil gas station and now a magnificent new visitor and interpretive center, have been designated a National Historical Landmark. The sites are overseen by the Park …
By John Christopher Fine | September 19, 2013
Belief in something creates conscience. While it has been argued academically whether the human being is born to be good or bad, all manner of superstition has been created as religious exercise to make us good. We’ve even burned people alive to make them better and stretched them on a rack to heal their souls. Of course it is easy to find examples that describe cruelty in the name of religion. We have to look no further than the child that becomes a martyr after exploding himself in a crowded bus or market.
There are those with faith that are evil and those without faith that are good. To work organized evil the first step is to eliminate faith, then …
By John Christopher Fine | September 18, 2013
I was assigned an investigation in Afghanistan. As part of the U.S. State Department Inspector General’s office we had jurisdiction over military and economic assistance programs being conducted by the U.S. The joke going around the embassy involved the Drug Enforcement Agency liaison. His job was to make contact with local officials and work with them to stem the flow of heroin. The man’s only accomplishment was to arrest the first attaché’s son for possession of marijuana.
There is no way to stop opium trafficking so long as there is demand for heroin. The United States is the world’s largest consumer. With all of the billions of dollars wasted on programs to prevent drug addition, nothing has worked. Not offering …
By John Christopher Fine | September 16, 2013
In last year’s power outages an 87-year old person, living alone, without family, was left stranded. The first power outage came after a storm in October. Residents in some parts of the area were without electricity for two weeks. Then there was a second power outage that compounded the problem.
Imagine the disruption in a person’s life without electricity. No light, no heat, no refrigeration for food. In the case of this older person, with special dietary needs, with beloved pets, it was a disaster. When the person that walked the dog came to the house, 911 was called after discovering the elderly person on the floor and alone.
That began an escalation of events that first saw the person …
By John Christopher Fine | September 15, 2013
Watergate would not be reported today. No newspaper with dwindling ad revenues and diminishing readership would undertake the task. No moral leadership would prevail in a newsroom to enable two reporters time to pursue evidence leading to a story of that kind. Political corruption is rampant in government. Contracts are being let for goods and services for protracted wars encouraged by campaign donors. Billions of dollars are being diverted into profiteer’s pockets. Petroleum prices are manipulated by multi-national companies whose offshore bases are rife with conspiracy.
The national press corps assigned to the White House is cozy with insiders that provide them ample cover for their comfortable lives. Think of it this way: when Libyan rebels entered and looted the …
By John Christopher Fine | September 14, 2013
I reviewed two World War II propaganda films. One made in Russia in 1938, depicts the victory of Russians, under Alexander Nevsky, repelling Teutonic invaders in 1242. The Sergei Eisenstein film concludes with a battle on a lake of ice. The invading Huns are defeated by brilliant strategy of the Russians defending their homelands. The invaders flee only to be swallowed up by frigid waters of the lake when the ice breaks.
The film was removed from theatres in 1939, when Russia and Germany signed a pact. The pact was violated by the Nazis. Eisenstein originally wanted the Teutonic invaders to have swastikas on their helmets. The symbolism was not implemented in the production. Unnecessary since the real implication is …