Nel's New Day

January 18, 2016

MLK Day: Bundy Clueless about Civil Disobedience

MLK Day honors a man who tried to makes lives better for poor and black people through civil disobedience while Malheur occupiers use firearms to keep people from using public land. 

If Martin Luther King, Jr. had not been murdered in 1968, he might have turned 87 years of age last Friday. For 30 years, the man who espoused nonviolent civil disobedience has been remembered by a federal day in his honor, but the country has not been solidly behind King’s achievements. Ninety representatives and 22  senators, mostly Republican, still opposed this commemoration, arguing that the nation had been “misled into believing MLK was a great man.” President Ronald Reagan threatened to veto the federal holiday of Martin Luther King Day until Congress passed the bill by a veto-proof majority.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) defended his state’s governor, Evan Mecham, in rescinding the state holiday in 1986. Mecham told a group of black community leaders, “King doesn’t deserve a holiday. You folks don’t need another holiday. What you folks need are jobs.” Arizona started celebrating MLK Day only after NFL threatened to boycott hosting Super Bowl XXVII in 1990.

South Carolina was the last state to recognize the day as a paid holiday for all state employees. Prior to that, Southern states avoided the celebration of MLK Day by forcing employees to choose between this day or one of three Confederate holidays. Even today, three states—Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi—honor both MLK and Robert E. Lee, Confederate general on the third Monday of January.

Eight men who voted against honoring MLK are still serving in Congress: all are Republicans although Richard Shelby was a Democrat when he cast his vote in 1983. Senate: Richard Shelby (AL), Chuck Grassley (IA), John McCain (AZ), and Orrin Hatch (UT). House: Jim Sensenbrenner (WI), Hal Rogers (KY), Jim Scalise (LA), and Johnny Isakson (GA).

This is the first year that the Confederate flag has not flown over the South Carolina state capitol on MLK Day. North Carolina educator and activist Bree Newsome climbed the 30-foot flagpole in front of the statehouse and removed the flag ten days after a white man, showing white supremacy symbols including the Confederate flag on his website, killed nine black people during a prayer service in their church. This tragedy occurred in a state where the governor, Nikki Haley, said last week, “We’ve never in the history of this country passed any laws or done anything based on race or religion.” After heated arguments last summer, the state authorized moving the flag to a museum at a cost of over $3 million.

Today, MLK Day, people were allowed to go into national parks for free—except for the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in north-central Oregon. That’s because a group of armed white people occupy the refuge, asserting that the public land belongs to “we the people.” Yet their occupation keeps everyone else from being able to use land that belongs to all the people, not just the few who patrol the land with semi-automatic rifles.

Environmentalists are taking on these men. A group of almost 300 people gathered at a protest in Bend, 150 miles southeast of Malheur.  Bitterbrush Broadband and their parent group, Old Broads for Wilderness originally designed to protect the country’s public lands on behalf of the elderly and not-so-able, are joining the Audubon Society and other advocacy groups against the occupation of Malheur. According to the broads, it’s time for people to push back against the hooligans. At their rally, they explained how Malheur had been the poster child for collaboration between locals and the feds and how hypocritical and racist the militants are. A “bro,” or male broad, described how he had been turned away from the refuge by a man with a large assault rifle.

hendersonToday environmental activist Candy Henderson, 64, attended a briefing by Malheur occupiers on her way from Walla Walla to Houston for breast cancer treatment. when occupiers claimed that the U.S. must turn the land back to the people because the government has no right to purchase property, Henderson asked if Alaska should be returned to Russia or if the Louisiana Purchase was to return to France. She said that she wanted the government to keep the refuge and other federal properties:

“I want to go to Mt. Rushmore again. I want to go to the national forests and the national Parklands.”

Bundy

One of the occupiers asked if the people behind Henderson were FBI informants and yelled at a man holding a sign that read, “Ideas, not guns”:

“Do you remember what I said to you about that sign? Don’t bring a butter knife to a gun fight.”

When Newsome came down from the South Carolina flagpole on June 17, 2015, she said, “I’m prepared to be arrested.” That is an act of civil disobedience, a peaceful type of protest used by Henry David Thoreau when he refused to pay his taxes in protest of the Mexican-American War and slavery in 1846 and continued by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his attempt to improve the plight of poor and black people. King was arrested 30 times and peacefully went to jail each time.

In contrast, Malheur occupiers threaten violence to anyone who opposes them and aren’t willing to be imprisoned to highlight what they perceive to be injustices. Instead they are capitalists living off the government and donations to get attention. Occupier spokesman is Ammon Bundy, son of Cliven Bundy who owns almost $1 million worth of cattle and grazes them free on public lands in Clark County (NV) because he has refused to pay any fees since 1993.

Bundy wants to “return” the land to the “people,” meaning ranchers although the land was Northern Paiute Indigenous territory called Malheur (“misfortune” or “tragedy” in French) in the 1870s where occupiers now live. Malheur, like much of public land in the United States, is owned by “we the people” because native peoples were forced to leave them and the federal government purchased the land. Ranchers like the Bundys have broad expanses of land because the federal government privatized land after dispossessing indigenous peoples or maintained public land for their use.

The two ranchers of Harney County, imprisoned for arson and illegal activities, have received federal largess. Hammond Ranches received $295,000 in payments between 1995 and 2012 under various conservation, livestock disaster, crop disaster and other federal assistance programs. Other federal bonuses for the Hammonds:

  • A government program that protects ranchers’ and farmers’ livestock from predators, including killing five coyotes for the ranchers between 2009 and 2011.
  • Charges to the ranchers of only $1.35 for a cow and calf per month, a savings of 93 percent for the ranchers for using public rather than private lands.
  • Reimbursement of half the grazing fees to the ranchers for range betterment to benefit the ranchers.
  • A federal drought disaster relief program that provided two insurgent rancher families in Nevada $2.2 million in 2013.
  • The federal “emergency feed program” providing money for feed even with no emergency.

Removal of wild horses from public lands to make way for cattle.

Many people in Harney County suffer from poverty, but these aren’t the people who would get the land if the Bundys were successful. Occupiers want to give the land to other ranchers like these:

Treetop Ranches, controlled by Larry and Marianne Williams who complain about government overreach, owns 6000 cattle impacting 750,000 acres and 100 race horses, one of them finishing eighth in the Kentucky Derby. The Williams also made millions in timber.

Roaring Springs Ranch with its manager, Stacy Davies, extols the virtues of cattle grazing and subsidized taxpayer-funded clear cutting of Western juniper. The Sanders family, timber mill barons, purchased the ranch in 1992. Its 1,011,792 acres, three-fourths leased from the government, sustains over 6,200 head of cattle and 150 horses as well as 2,500 acres of meadow hay and 1,200 acres of alfalfa. The owners of six sawmills have an agreement with the federal government that precludes an endangered-species listing while government subsidizes projects, disguised as watersheds and redband trout protections, that maintain high levels of grazing disguised as watersheds and redband trout protections. Taxpayers provided the Sanders with $300,000 over five years starting in 2007 to provide the ranch with fencing. Davies praised this “funding and expertise” as a “fantastic partnership.”

Ranchers have succeeded in exempting agreement information from Records Act requests in Oregon, and the federal Farm Bill prevents anyone from discovering who is receiving government munificence. The Roaring Springs Ranch has its own biologist to ensure that these agreements keep benefitting themselves. The result is use of federal funding to protect wildlife going to wealthy ranchers who destroy wildlife.

Bundy wants these people to get public lands purchased by taxpayers—i.e., “we the people.” He and others claim the occupiers use “civil disobedience,” but their using weapons to keep people off public land mark them as insurrectionists trying to destroy the federal government. Lack of prosecution for the Bundy family and their followers in 2014 after they pulled guns on federal agents and anyone near the Bundy ranch in Nevada has led to a geometric increase of white supremacists who are terrorizing the United States. It’s past time for the government to stop the current insurgency.

January 17, 2016

Nikki Haley Wrong about Religion

Filed under: Discrimination,Religion — trp2011 @ 7:56 PM
Tags: , ,

South Carolina governor shows her ignorance in claiming that the U.S. has “never…done anything based on race or religion.”

South Carolina Nikki Haley gave a far better presentation following President Obama’s State of the Union speech than Republicans have done so in previous years. Her pearly whites sparkled, she didn’t reach for any water, and she looked at the right camera. The GOP presidential wannabe did manage to offend her own party by partially telling the truth—that the GOP is somewhat to blame for the country’s problems.

She also made a huge gaff in her speech, however, when she said that “we’ve never in the history of this country passed any laws or done anything based on race or religion.” Born in South Carolina to Indian Sikh parents, she may have not been educated about the U.S. Constitution originally counting a black person as 3/5 of a person or keeping blacks as slaves before the Civil War. She also skipped over the Jim Crow years that kept blacks from voting and white people lynched blacks with impunity. Perhaps she thinks that the discriminatory voting laws in her own state at the current time come from a rejection of poor people rather than people of color.

How she could have missed the “done anything based on … religion,” I don’t know. Here are a few examples.

Kentucky conservatives are considering a bill to postpone the opening of school for the 2016/17 session so that Ken Ham will make more money for his creationist museum that shows people living at the same time as dinosaurs. The state has already given Ham money to build the place.

Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court justice in perpetuity, said that the constitution does not provide religious neutrality in a speech at Archbishop Rummel High School, a Louisiana school. He explained to his audience that the United States is successful because of God and that the government should honor the Christian deity.

Rep. David Brat (R-VA), replacement for former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, said that President Obama should not be allowed to use the Bible’s position on Syrian refugees because conservatives “own” Christianity. Brat further complained that the president is “using the Christian tradition and trying to bring about compassion by bonking Republicans over the head with the Bible. It’s almost a comedy routine on what compassion and love is. He’s mocking his enemies in order to compel a larger federal state using the tradition of love.”

Taxpayers are forced to support Catholic hospitals who typically refuse women simple procedures because of Catholic belief that voluntary sterilization is intrinsically evil. Women getting C-sections have to leave the Catholic hospital to get a tubal ligation. When Rebecca Chamorro sued Dignity Health’s Mercy Medical Center for refusing “pregnancy-related care” for non-medical reasons, illegal in California, a San Francisco Superior Court judge declined to issue an emergency order to allow Chamorro’s the procedure, requiring her to have two separate surgeries at two different hospitals. Catholics are taking over hospitals at such a high rate than millions of women in the United States lack easy access to non-Catholic hospitals.

According to a poll, 82 percent of people in the U.S. place the highest priority on preserving religious freedom for Christians while protecting other religions—or non-religion—is lower. For many people, freedom of religion is only for religions that they like and doesn’t apply to all, as the Constitution states. Rick Santorum argued in a recent debate for GOP presidential candidates that Islam doesn’t deserve religious liberty because it’s also Sharia law. He said nothing about laws in the United States based on Christian religion.

Although marriage equality is now legal in the United States, hundreds—perhaps thousands—of people have refused to issue licenses to lesbians and gays or to marry same-gender couples. Santorum also said in last week’s debate that the economy won’t improve as long as “gays” have children.

Pam Martens and Russ Martens reported on the persecution of Muslims in the U.S.:

“Mosques in 31 states in America have been the targets of firebombs, arson, acid attacks, gunfire, hate speech or other forms of religious intolerance since 2005. In Joplin, Missouri, a mosque’s sign was torched in 2008. Four years later, its roof was set on fire with the perpetrator caught on a surveillance video. One month later, in August 2012, the mosque was burned to the ground.

“In 2008, Chris Rodda, reporting for the Huffington Post, wrote about Muslim babies and children being gassed in an attack on a mosque in Dayton, Ohio during the same week that a DVD of the race-baiting, anti-Muslim documentary Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West was mailed to thousands of households in Ohio and inserted into newspapers around the state….

“Approximately 100 newspapers and magazines in the U.S., including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, and St. Petersburg Times, distributed millions of these DVDs. Including the direct mail campaign, 28 million DVDs flooded households in key states.”

Anti-Muslim writer David Horowitz took an “Islamo-Fascism Awareness” program to more than 100 college campuses. Tracing the money for the creation and distribution of the DVD led to right-wing billionaire Charles Koch.   The money behind the distribution came from right-wing billionaire Charles Koch.

What has religion “done” in the United States? It’s made people ignorant through using Christianity in place of education; it’s killed LGBT people and denied them jobs and housing; it’s blocked health care for women and kept them subjugated to men; it’s heightened racist beliefs; it’s denied women equal rights; it’s stopped immigration reform; it’s decimated the Native American population and taken their lands; and it’s set the United States back almost a century in many other ways.

When domestic terrorists kill people in the United States on the basis of Christian religion, they are regarded as suffering from mental illness. The few Muslims who have done the same thing ar regarded as animals from another world and hated because of their religion.

Gov. Haley, you are wrong. The history of the United States is filled with passing laws and doing anything “based on race or religion.”

January 16, 2016

President Brings Good News in Prisoner Release, Jobs, Cleaner Air

President Obama Lifts Sanctions on Iran, Gains Release of Prisoners, Stops Coal Mining on Federal Lands, & Tries to Improve Stagnant Wages

Ten U.S. sailors who wandered into Iranian waters were released after 16 hours, much to the great dismay of GOP candidates who were determined to start World War III. Today conservatives are equally distraught because President Obama’s diplomacy has arranged for the release from Iran of five U.S. citizens, including a Washington Post reporter, after 14 months of secret negotiations. In exchange, the U.S. will release seven Iranians held on sanctions violation with the option of remaining in the U.S. Donald Trump accused the president of “giving” Iran $150 billion, but that money belongs to Iran. The deal between that country and five other countries agreed that Iran would now have access to their own money.

It was the Iranian deal that allowed diplomats from the two countries to talk “face-to-face” about the prisoner situation. Iran negotiators wanted the release of over a dozen Iranians, but the U.S. reduced the list “to exclude anyone who was charged with a crime related to violence or terrorism.” President Obama refused to connect the prisoner release to the Iran agreement because it would be even more difficult to bring them home if the nuclear deal failed. Doing so would also encourage Iran to arrest more U.S. citizens in the future.

Last week Jeb Bush declared it “appalling” that “there’s been no effort to try to support the Americans held hostage by the Iranian government.” This is only one example of ignorant complaints from GOP presidential candidates. Iranians negotiators were very clear that Iran hardliners would cause the release arrangements to explode if the discussions were to be made public. For that reason, HuffPo sat on the information it received last fall from a state official. The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal also did not publicize the negotiations.

Last spring, 21 senators, led by Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry to demand the prisoners’ unconditional release. After the exchange, however, Rubio said that the U.S. should never engage in prisoner “swaps.”Chris Christie said that, as president, he would not accept any prisoner exchanges. Ted Cruz is pleased that Pastor Saeed Abedini is returned, but the exchange is still “bad.” Ben Carson said that he would withdraw from the Iran agreement on his first day as president even if it did lay the groundwork for the prisoners’ release. Donald Trump said that Iran got more out of the deal than the U.S.

Since the Iran agreement was signed, Iran released 15 people, disabled two-thirds of its centrifuges, shipped out most of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium, and poured concrete into its plutonium reactor so it can no longer be used to make a bomb. Instead of diplomacy, Republicans prefer to drop bombs on Iran.

As of today, the United States and other countries around the world have lifted sanctions against Iran because the country is fulfilling its promises. Iran will immediately be able to recoup $50 billion of its own money now held in restricted accounts, one-third of the $150 billion that they have been unable to access. This reward is for stopping its path toward obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The House had already decided not to sue the president over the Iran agreement but hasn’t come up with a plan regarding its proposed votes against the deal. This GOP failure may be another idiot plan for the history books.

The president’s Saturday morning address has more news that will annoy Republicans. A major problem with the recent recovery providing hundreds of thousands of new jobs is that companies re-hired at lower wages, creating stagnant salaries. This year, the president is initiating a plan of improved unemployment insurance, job training for those who can’t find a job, and wage insurance for people making under $50,000 a year who are re-hired at a lower wage. It would cover up to $10,000 in wage replacement over two years.

In addition, the president’s federally-funded plan would require states to provide insurance for workers laid off from jobs they had held for at least three years. The state unemployment insurance programs would administrate the program. Other measures would mandate that all states provide at least 26 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits and create a permanent program to automatically provide up to 52 additional weeks of federally-funded benefits for states experiencing rapid job-losses or high unemployment.

The proposal, part of the president’s budget and requiring congressional approval, would be paid through a slight increase in employers’ unemployment insurance tax. From 2008 to 2013, extended unemployment insurance benefits helped nearly 24 million workers and lifted 2.5 million people out of poverty in 2012 alone.

In another action that will infuriate conservatives, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced a moratorium on new coal-mining leases on public land along with a multiyear review of how those lease contracts are awarded. Leases may become more expensive for mining companies with increased royalties for the government to offset the damage coal production and consumption do to the environment. This is the first review of the coal program in 30 years.

About 40 percent of all US coal extraction takes place on federal land, much of that in Wyoming, the nation’s top coal producer. Royalty rates for coal mining are much lower than for offshore oil or other publicly owned fossil fuels, a bad deal for the public that has to deal with impacts from local environmental degradation to global climate change. According to a 2015 study, 92 percent of U.S coal reserves need to stay buried in the goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

The moratorium will stop about 50 pending coal leases, many of which would probably not have gone into production, but it won’t change existing mining operations. U.S. coal production is at a 30-year low, one of the country’s biggest companies recently declared bankruptcy, and once-promising export markets in China are drying up. Coal companies have currently stockpiled billions of tons of unmined coal that is ready to be developed; a targeted pause on leasing will have no impact on jobs, coal production, energy prices, or grid reliability.

More than 57 percent of all emissions from fossil fuel production on federal lands comes from the combustion of coal. Coal mining in the Wyoming/Montana Powder River Basin is responsible for 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Strip mining and failed mine reclamation produce air and water pollution, and some companies avoid paying their cleanup costs, forcing the expenditures onto taxpayers. About 13,000 people are annually killed by power plant emissions with coal plants the deadliest type of power plant. Even as far away as 20 to 40 miles away from coal plants, women are more likely to give birth to children with low birth weights.

Since 2008, the coal industry’s decline of 15 percent has been largely driven by the rise in natural gas and changes in the global market. Green jobs are replacing those in the coal industry although the two industries employ different types of workers. For the third straight year, solar jobs grew 20 percent in the United States.  Last year, the solar industry added jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy—more than jobs created by oil and gas extraction and pipeline sectors combined. Over the last year, the solar industry added jobs twelve times faster than the rest of the economy, even more than the jobs created by the oil and gas extraction and pipeline sectors combined.

The solar industry employs 208,859 people, 77 percent more than the people in the coal mining industry with fewer than 70,000 jobs. The only slowdown in the solar industry comes from states with policies to make electricity for solar households more expensive. For example, Nevada decided to kill solar jobs in its states.

At this time, the United States has a president who looks to the future, leading the nation through diplomacy and clean energy instead of increasing pollution and starting World War III. We can only hope that this trend continues instead of going back a century.

January 15, 2016

Insurgents Intimidate Oregon Residents; One Arrested

Filed under: Terrorism — trp2011 @ 9:42 PM
Tags: , ,

Thirteen days after a small group of armed militants took over federal buildings at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in north-central Oregon, one of them finally got arrested. After a number of law enforcement agencies monitored their illegal activities, Oregon State Police on Friday arrested 62-year-old Kenneth Medenback of Crescent (OR) for driving a stolen federal vehicle into Burns to the grocery store. Medenback is facing federal charges in Medford and had been released on the condition that he would not “occupy” any federal land. The man has a long history of convictions.

Opinion about their insurgency was mixed, but the residents have become increasingly concerned by the insurgents’ intimidation, threatening and following people who live in Burns. Refuge employees have been forced to leave the area, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “is taking necessary steps to ensure employee and family safety.” Harney County Sheriff David Ward said that his deputies and own family members had been followed home, photographed, and had personal property damaged in recent months.

Members of the Pacific Patriots Network from Oregon, Washington and Idaho, carrying rifles and sidearms and clad in military attire and bulletproof vests, tried to join Bundy’s group at Malheur. Told to leave, they moved on to Burns where they harass the residents. The occupation has developed the feeling of a siege.Malheur

The insurgents’ illegal actions began with taking over a federal building and the surrounding lands. If a person “knowingly converts to his use” property of the federal government, that person could face a fine and a prison sentence of up to 10 years if the value of the property is greater than $1,000. Willful property destruction at protected sanctuaries could yield a six-month prison sentence. A separate statute says that if someone “willfully and maliciously” destroys property on certain federal lands, then he or she could face a fine of up to $250,000 and five years in prison.

The militants promised that they wouldn’t damage any property while they squatted on the land in their attempt to get public land given to private individuals, but thus far they have

  • Used the site’s kitchens, beds, offices, museum, and other buildings.
  • Driven federal vehicles around the compound and into Burns.
  • Used federal IDs found on the premises.
  • Accessed government computers to find personal information about employees such as addresses and Social Security numbers.
  • Used a federal excavator to remove government fencing between private and public lands.
  • Built new roads with no attention to cultural artifacts, habitat, and wildlife.
  • Removed surveillance cameras near Burns.

Ammon Bundy claimed that rancher Tim Puckett asked him to take down the fence, but Puckett denied Bundy’s allegation and said that the occupiers are not allowed on his land. A federal statute prohibits the possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in federal facilities, with only limited exceptions for law enforcement. Violation could lead to a fine and a one-year prison sentence, and the use of the weapon in the commission of a crime can extend the sentence to five years.

The cost for the occupiers exceeds $133,400 per day amounting to over $1.8 million for just the first 13 days:

$23,400: Almost 120 refuge BLM and refuge employees now on paid administrative leave with another 50 employees also on paid leave.

$40,000: Lost tourism from a variety of outdoor recreationalists, about 119,000 annual visitors to the refuge who spend about $15 million a year.

$70,000: Security costs and school closures.

Self-described ISIS supporter and new “recruit” David Fry is using government computers to build a website for the occupiers. A big fan of Adolf Hitler, Fry said that “there has to be some point where people have to put their foot down against [government] problems” and he thinks that the insurgents are “pretty good people.” The website liberally uses videos that Fry made of himself playing video games almost a year ago.

The occupiers have decided that they will develop an alternative legal system in the area with their own judge, sheriff, and other elected officials. Partnering with self-proclaimed “Superior Court Judge” Bruce Doucette, they would declare themselves “sovereign citizens” with no mandate to follow any city, county, state, or federal laws. Doucette is a conspiracy theorist who thinks that the 9/11 attacks and the Boston Marathon bombing are government hoaxes and that the earth is flat. The occupiers could then use a “grand jury”—and their guns—to arrest people. Self-proclaimed “sovereign citizens” have a history of extremist violence.

Tensions have been building at the refuge.

Joe “Capt. O” Oshaugnessy left after a drunken argument with participants over bringing their wives and children to the standoff.

Brian “Booda” Cavalier left the compound because news reports revealed he had lied about serving in the military. (Since then, Cavalier has been arrested in Maricopa County, OR on an outstanding warrant.)

Blaine Cooper, sucker-punched one of his former friends, sending the man to the hospital with a concussion and serious facial injuries.

Lewis Arthur, the recipient of the injuries, said he came to remove a “radicalized” and “suicidal” veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has a tendency toward violence when he’s placed under stress. He said that Cooper attacked one of Arthur’s three-man team over an argument about removing women, children, and Ryan Payne, a U.S. Army veteran who had bragged about his sniper teams to target federal agents during the 2014 Bundy ranch standoff. Cooper said that Arthur started the fight.

John Hildinger, arrested on a Maryland firearms charge on his way to the anti-Obama “Operation American Spring” rally in 2013, described Cooper, Payne, and Cavalier as loose cannons.

Jon Ritzheimer had a temper tantrum on video after people sent “a bag of dicks”—Ritzheimer’s description—following the insurgents’ begging for a long list of items including tampons, cigarettes, and snacks.

Many members of the so-called “militia” take advantage of government financial support such as the $530,000 Small Business Administration loan that Ammon Bundy received in 2010. Ritzheimer has only his government disability check and “a wife that works.” Mark Pitcavage, researcher of far-right movements for 22 years and studier of the Harney County occupiers said, “Right-wing extremists, generally speaking, have very little money.” Daryl Johnson, a former DHS domestic terrorism analyst, said that the militants “think nothing” about spending half their money “to buy ammunition and guns.”

Occupier LaVoy Finicum said earlier this week that the group would outline their exit strategy today, but nothing has been said about it since then. They’ve also said that they would leave if the community didn’t want them. It doesn’t, but they’re still there. Residents have repeatedly told the insurgents to leave, including the call for one of the insurgents to stop talking at a community meeting this past week. The audience applauded as law enforcement ushered Pete Santilli, earlier arrested in Ohio for illegally carrying a concealed weapon, out of the building. In 2013, Santilli was investigated after he threatened to shoot Hillary Clinton “in the vagina” and described 15-year-old Ashley Presley, granddaughter of a county judge, as a political “prostitute” after she said she was afraid of the insurgents.

Malheur flockOne protester holding a sign said, “I never thought I’d have to say this, but I’m here to oppose the armed occupation of a wildlife refuge.”

So a bunch of white people, mostly men, have forced a public school of 800 to close down for a week, followed and harassed citizens of a town, illegally accessed government computers to gain personal information about federal employees, destroyed public property, blocked public land from use by U.S. residents, illegally occupied a federal facility and used its utilities, stolen federal vehicles, and broken other laws. They cost taxpayers millions of dollars as well as create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in a formerly sleepy Oregon town. These are members of the Tea Party that want to save money and throw immigrants out of the country because they “break the law.”

The insurgents’ actions are clearly domestic terrorism, but their white skin protects them from death—and possibly future imprisonment. Conservative candidates campaign by raging against ISIL while domestic terrorists—mostly white Christian men—take over the United States.

January 14, 2016

Oscar Stays White

Filed under: Discrimination — trp2011 @ 9:33 PM
Tags: , , , ,
Academy Awards host Chris Rock poses for photographers backstage at the 77th Academy Awards Sunday, Feb. 27, 2005, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Laura Rauch)

Academy Awards host Chris Rock poses for photographers backstage at the 77th Academy Awards Sunday, Feb. 27, 2005, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Laura Rauch)

The announcement of 2016 Academy Awards nominees today came with no surprises—a white-out in actor nominations with no people of color in the top 20 acting nominees for the second year in a row. The last time that the acting nominees list was all white before 2014 was 1997. In addition, not one Best Director nominee is a woman. One of the very few black people up front for the Oscar presentations on February 7 will be host, Chris Rock.

One slight hope for diversity last year came from the four awards for Birdman, a film about a washed-up white actor. All four—Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Cinematography–came from Mexican talent. This link to Mexican culture, however, started with Sean Penn’s “joke”: “Who gave this son of a bitch a green card?” Despite Penn’s friendship with director Alejandro González Iñárritu, hashtag #PennDejo opened up a viral dialog on racial coding. After being designated as an “other” in the elitist Academy community, Iñárritu used his short time to dedicate his Oscar to Mexicans living on both sides of the U.S. border.

“I pray that we can find and build a government that we deserve, and the ones that live in this country, who are a part of the latest generation of immigrants in this country, I just pray that they can be treated with the same dignity and respect as the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation.”

For the second year in a row, a Mexican director was nominated last year for Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón was awarded Best Director for Gravity in 2014. Mexican cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who won his second Academy Award, had been nominated for his seventh Oscar. In 2007, three Mexican-born directors were nominated for Academy Awards: Iñárritu for Babel, Cuarón for Children of Men, and Guillermo del Toro for Pan’s Labyrinth. Last year, nominations for the front of the camera were white, but less visible people were more people of color.

Racial injustice may have been ignored over last year when Selma received only two nominations, but Common and John Legend, winners of the Best Original Song trophy, used their time to point out the film’s relevance. Legend said:

“Selma is now because the struggle for justice is right now. We know that the voting rights, the act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. We know that right now the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.”

Three times last year, speakers talked about suicide prevention. Graham Moore, winning screenwriter for The Imitation Game about closeted gay codebreaker Alan Turing during World War II, spoke about trying to kill himself as a teen because he felt different.

“Alan Turing never got to stand on a stage like this and look out at all of these disconcertingly attractive faces. And I do. And that’s the most unfair thing I think I’ve ever heard. So in this brief time here what I would want to use it to do is to say this: when I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself. Because I felt weird, and I felt different, and I felt like I did not belong. And now I’m standing here, and so I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes you do. I promise you do – you do. Stay weird, stay different. And then, when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage please pass this message to the next person who comes along.”

In the categories for film shorts, “The Phone Call” (fiction) and “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” (nonfiction) gave representations of suicide call centers and the importance of having these resources for people in need. Julianne Moore devoted part of her speech to discuss Alzheimer’s research, asking people to be more inclusive of people with the disorder and increase medical research to end the disease.

The crew of  Citizenfour talked about Edward Snowden and his whistleblowing advocacy. Director Laura Poitras said:

“The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don’t only expose a threat to our privacy, but to our democracy itself. When the most important decisions being made affecting all of us are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control. Thank you to Edward Snowden for his courage and for the many other whistleblowers.”

Regarding issues of sexism, Best Actress nominee Reese Witherspoon championed a social media campaign (#AskHerMore) encouraging the media to ask women about more than their outfits. Another issue during last year Oscars was wage equality after the Sony Pictures email hack revealed that Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams earned significantly less than their male co-stars. Best Supporting Actress winner Patricia Arquette said:

“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”

Her statement brought ire from Stacey Dash on the Fox network, who thinks that John F. Kennedy’s equal pay law has been successful. Dash went on to agree with “Mr. Trump,” who also wants a time when no one cares about racial and gender equality at the Oscars, and claimed, “I miss the glamour. The elegance. The class. The majesty of the Oscars.” She added that American Sniper” was “the most beautiful film [she’d] seen in a long time.” Dash is also known for starring in Clueless.  

Charlize Theron negotiated a $10 million dollar raise after the Sony hack of The Interview revealed her male co-star was being paid millions more than she was.

Before last year, political comments in the Oscar speeches were fewer than once a year and connected with a documentary in a political issue. Last year, the many references to social issues were largely cheered by the audience unlike ones in the 20th century such as Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins’ addressing the federal detention at Guantanamo Bay of HIV-positive Haitians fleeing a a coup d’état and Vanessa Redgrave’s speech accusing “Zionist hoodlums” of campaigning against her. Michael Moore was booed in 2003 for his Bowling for Columbine acceptance speech.

Last year, Chris Rock wrote a blistering op-ed piece about the whiteness of the film industry. As host this year, he may be able to deliver it in person. Any socially aware comments will be sure to bring down the fury of white conservatives. This year’s Oscar nominations depict the world as they see it, a world that is long gone.

January 13, 2016

Iran–a Nightmare for the GOP

President Obama’s last State of the Union speech was one of his best, both in delivery and writing. Listening to it was a joy, but even more delightful were the frantic attempts of House Speaker Paul Ryan to keep a straight face, to appear somber and disapproving so that his party not pillory him for reacting in any way that might indicate approval of the president who the GOP is determined to hate. Here’s one of Ryan’s failed attempts.

sotu

The conservatives did have about 16 hours of joy after Iran picked up ten sailors and two Navy patrol boats that wandered into Iranian waters. While Secretary of State John Kerry was negotiating for their return, GOP leaders disparaged the president’s leadership abilities and, as usual, accused him of letting Iran “push us around.” Saint Ronald Reagan came into the dialog as the GOP tried to use the incident to start a war with Iran.

Forbes Senior Political Contributor at Forbes Rick Ungar used Facebook to explain how far off base the Reagan worshippers are:

“One of the advantages of having graduated high school with Abraham Lincoln is that I was quite present during the Reagan administration. I remember all too well when our Marine barracks in Lebanon was bombed during Reagan’s term of office, killing 241 Marines and injuring another 100. Reagan knew who did it- it was Hezbollah with the support of Iran and Syria. How did Ronald Reagan respond?

“First, Reagan assembled his National Security team and hatched a plan to seek retribution by blowing up the Sheik Abdullah barracks in Baalbek, Lebanon, which housed Iranian Revolutionary Guards that were there to train Hezbollah fighters. The only problem was that Reagan ultimately decided not to do it because it would harm relations with other Arab nations.

“Not only did he not do anything to avenge the deaths of our Marines, four months later he withdrew all of our Marines from Lebanon, never so much as firing a shot in retribution for our dead military. There was no shortage of people at that time who were incensed with that move, just like these armchair quarterbacks who are on Obama’s case because someone took a photograph they don’t like- forget killing over 200 of our finest.”

Like President Obama in the current era, Reagan realized that “carpet bombing” Damascus and Tehran wouldn’t solve any problems: it would just cause more conflict and destroy foreign policy. Yet conservatives follow the war hawks, Israelis, and defense contractors who are salivating for a fight with Iran to further line the pockets of the rich to the loss of U.S. soldiers, economy, civilians, and peace.

The GOP House has been determined to scuttle the Iran deal determined by six major world leaders, but Ryan seems unable to get his members into the chamber to vote in a timely fashion. Today the vote to trash the Iran deal passed on an almost strictly partisan vote of 191 to 106, meaning that over 50 Republicans were missing. Because Ryan kept to the 15-minute limit for voting, something that his predecessor had not done, he had a serious shortage of votes. The House Speaker than promptly scrapped the vote and set a new one for January 26.

The bill would force the president to certify that entities benefiting from lifted sanctions would have to prove they never supported terrorism or Iran’s missile program. The new vote may be too late to stop Iran from regaining about $100 billion of its own assets. Even if the bill had passed, House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said, “It’s a waste of all our time” because the president would veto the bill. This is the process, however, that the GOP continually follows—pass only bills that they know the president will veto.

Congress has another Iranian problem in the Supreme Court when it argued in Bank Markazi v. Peterson that the legislature is above the court system. That position didn’t sit well with the justices. Congress had ordered a federal court to determine how the U.S. could give almost $2 billion in security assets from Iranian’s bank to victims (and their families) of Middle East terrorist acts blamed on Iran by using language in its caption, including the case number of the victim’s lawsuit, for a law governing no other lawsuit. Justices seemed to initially go along with the process, but lawyers told the court that Congress could change any pending case in the courts by modifying a law to apply to only one case. Lawyer Theodore B. Olson told Chief Justice John Roberts that Congress does this all the time—in essence, tells the court how it shall rule—even saying that Congress could take such action in a Supreme Court case. Roberts wasn’t happy about Olson’s position.

In another Supreme Court case, Congress is trying to prove that it controls Puerto Rico instead of the country following its own constitution.

Convinced that Iran would not live up to its agreement to stop its path to a nuclear program, Republicans had a bad shock in the end of 2015. Iran has turned over almost all its enriched uranium to the Russians with plans to downgrade the little remaining material to fissionable reactor plates for an internationally supervised test reactor. The country will have no ability to produce weapons-grade material.

This positive move by Iran is not only irreversible but also months ahead of schedule. The country is also in the stages of completing other requirements, including dismantling the mandated number of centrifuges, reconfiguring the Arak heavy water reactor (to close down the pathway via plutonium), and allowing for more intrusive inspections. Although violating UN Security Council resolutions, Iran’s ballistic missile test does not violate the agreement. President Obama said he will address that problem by enforcing sanctions that are not part of the agreement.

Before the completion of the Iran deal, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) got signatures from 47 senators on a letter to Iran stating that the U.S. might not live up to their agreement. Living in relative obscurity since then, Cotton selected the night of President Obama’s last State of the Union speech to spread more lies about the U.S. boats being picked up in Iranian waters. According to the Tea Partier, it was not “coincidental” that Iran had selected that night to “seize” the boats and that the White House was “apologizing for Iran seizing two U.S. Navy vessels and holding 10 sailors hostage.” A minor blip on history was also blown out of proportion by GOP presidential candidates in an effort to score points and appeal to war hawks.

Republicans may have benefitted financially from their virulent opposition to the Iran deal. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials tried to bribe members of Congress to stop the agreement. They may have succeeded. The discussion shows that some legislators conspired with a foreign government to undermine the Commander-in-Chief’s foreign policy agenda—a definition of treason. The GOP has already evidenced its allegiance to Israeli’s lobbying groups such as AIPAC and the Israeli government. Sheldon Adelson, the 20th richest person in the world, spent $30 million on legislators to oppose the Iran deal.

Republicans have a reason other than supporting Israel to stop lifting sanctions on Iran: oil prices. Last spring, guesstimaters said that the price of oil could skyrocket to $250 a barrel with a conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Now they wonder if the prices will drop even more because Saudi Arabia will drop its prices to force down those of Iran. With gas prices hovering at $2 per gallon and $30 per barrel, a 70-percent drop in the past 15 months, conservatives in Congress are considering action to raise oil prices. Fracking in the U.S. has caused an oil glut of oil, driving the prices down; thus lawmakers are considering retaliatory trade measures against Saudi Arabia for flooding the market with its own oil. A few years ago, Republicans blamed President Obama for high gas prices; now they complain about low prices.

All the GOP can hope for is a Republican president, one who would start World War III.

January 5, 2016

Women Lose As Others Forge Ahead

The year 2015 was really good for people in the U.S. More red states accepted the Affordable Care Act, LGBT people gained more rights, the unemployment went down while the economy went up, the Iran agreement survived treasonous attempts by Republican legislators to destroy it, states started to move away from gerrymandering, a ban on microbeads in products will make eating fish healthier, President Obama decided to declare a war on unfettered gun ownership by felons and people with mental illnesses—the list goes on and on with encouraging actions.

Women, however, kept losing their fundamental rights. Conservative court actions and calls for defunding Planned Parenthood led to growing denials of inexpensive, easy access to health exams to detect cancer and STIs as well as contraceptives that would keep them from getting pregnant. During 2015, a number of states introduced almost 400 anti-abortion bills, an increase from 335 in 2014. From regulating medication abortions to complete bans on second-trimester abortions, 57 of these bills made it into law.

An overview of the “war on uteruses”:

Medication abortion restrictions: Arkansas requires providers to lie to patients by telling them that the effects of the “abortion pill”—a drug called mifepristone, or RU-486—can be reversed. Another restriction is mandating original FDA-approved dosage, decreasing the drug’s effectiveness and increasing negative side effects. Other inaccurate information forced on patients is the myth about fetal pain during abortion and women’s mental health problems after it. Laws also ban using telemedicine for medication abortion, especially beneficial for poor women living in rural areas. Idaho also bans this safe practice and requires doctors who administer the medication to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. With its concern about the importance of life between conception and birth, Arkansas is the second-worst state for women’s and children’s well-being.

Unprecedented bans against the most common procedure for second-trimester abortions: Kansas, the first state to pass a ban against what it calls “dismemberment abortion,” fails to use medical language in its law, opting for such emotional language as “unborn child” instead of fetus. A Kansas district judge blocked the law, and the case is on appeal. Oklahoma’s law uses even worse language by describing it as “purposely dismember[ing] a living unborn child….” That law is also on hold.

Waiting periods: North Carolina and Oklahoma tripled the time between state-mandated abortion counseling from 24 hours to 72 hours. All 12 Southeast states mandate waiting periods except for Florida where a law for a 24-hour waiting period blocked by a circuit court judge is pending a final ruling.

Reducing abortion access: Tennessee amended the state constitution by refusing any funding for abortions although state and federal money cannot legally be used to fund abortion. Another law requires clinics performing more than 50 surgical procedures a year to meet standards of ambulatory surgery centers similar to hospital standards. A woman who attempted to self-induce a miscarriage in her bathtub after 24 weeks of pregnancy now faces a first-degree attempted murder charge.

Parental consent: Arkansas women under 18 seeking a judge’s permission for an abortion without parental consent must undergo an “evaluation and counseling session with a mental health professional” to ensure that the minor is mature enough for the procedure and that an abortion is in her best interests. With no time limit for the court proceedings, the pregnancy could be so advanced that performing an abortion could become illegal. A minor is also required to file the petition in the county where she lives, violating her privacy.

Ban after 20 weeks: Despite the governor’s veto, West Virginia became the 15th state to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The law offers no exceptions for victims of rape or incest and provides only a highly limited exception for women whose lives are endangered by their pregnancy or for fetal abnormalities. A similar law in Arkansas against abortions after 12 weeks was struck down in the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Two states did move toward preventing abortions. Oregon became the first state to offer contraceptives over the counter for up to a year’s supply, and California allows women to get birth control directly from a pharmacist.

The growing lack of access to abortion and contraception increases unintended pregnancies among poor women while the number of these among well-off women is shrinking. The rate of such pregnancies among women with incomes below the poverty line jumped 56 percent from 1994 to 2008 while falling by 24 percent for higher-income women. In 2008, the unintended-pregnancy rate for poor women was more than five times that of the most well-off.  Without Planned Parenthood, women are more likely to lack contraception. Of 491 counties with PP clinics, 103 counties have no other place giving low-income women access to affordable contraception.

Women who are turned away from terminating pregnancies are three times more likely to fall below the poverty line over the following two years than women who successfully get an abortion. They are also more likely to end up unemployed and to rely on government benefits to get by, then considered “takers” by the Republican legislators.

In the coming year, the U.S. Supreme Court will make pivotal decisions regarding women’s access to abortions and contraception.

Whole Woman’s Health vs. Cole determines whether Texas can enforce two regulations forcing about 75 percent of the state’s women’s clinics to close by requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and mandating clinics to have the same standards as an outpatient surgical center. Although the case is framed as a health issue for women, it is actually about blocking abortions. The decision will determine the standard used in federal courts to review abortion regulations—whether states can enact regulations without proving the effectiveness of safety.

Zubik vs. Burwell addresses the fourth SCOTUS challenge to the Affordable Care Act and the second case about the religious freedom objection to employer mandate for no-cost contraceptive coverage in health insurance policies. The issue of this case is not whether religious groups are exempt but whether they must notify the government of their religious objections. They maintain that the mere signing of a notification will “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion,” quoting the 1993 federal law on religious liberty. Almost all the appeals courts have rejected this claim; SCOTUS will combine seven of them in this one case.

From 1973 until 1992, the Supreme Court rejected dozens of state efforts to limit access to abortion, enforcing Roe v. Wade’s ruling that until the point of viability, the state could regulate abortion only to protect the health and well-being of women. The only decisions during that time against abortion were Bellotti v. Baird (1979), ruling in favor of parental consent, and Harris v. McRae (1980), excluding payments for medically necessary abortions from Medicaid.

In 1992, Planned Parenthood v. Casey upheld a highly restrictive Pennsylvania law that included mandatory waiting periods, parental consent, and biased information. The Court abandoned the legal principles of Roe v. Wade, allowing laws designed to limit access to abortion at any stage of pregnancy if the law does not place an “undue burden” on a woman’s access to abortion. The decision that spousal consent was an undue burden has not stopped hundreds of restrictions since 1992 that were not perceived as violation of the new standard.

In the more recent Gonzales v. Carhart (2007), the Supreme Court upheld the so-called Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, a 2003 law that fails to refer to any medical procedure. It bans an intact dilation and evacuation (D&E) unless the fetus is no longer alive. Since then, state restrictions have forced doctors to choose a less safe procedure if they cannot ensure the fetus is no longer alive even if it is brain dead.

The number of nonhospital providers performing 400 or more abortions per year peaked in the late 1980s at 705 and fell by 2011 to 553. Since 2011, over 200 abortion restrictions have led to massive closure of clinics throughout the nation. Five states—Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming—each have just one, and the number of abortion providers in Texas has gone from 62 across the huge state to a possibility of only ten. Not one clinic is open for 550 miles. Throughout the United States, clinics are closing at the rate of 1.5 every week. Other states have suffered the same losses, for example Ohio losing over half of its clinics.

abortion graphIn clinics still open, Christian terrorists subject workers and clients to a campaign of terror, criminal acts, and violence. The killings by these terrorists aren’t limited to clinics: Dr. George Tiller was murdered in his church while attending Sunday services. Most abortions today require endless waits, interminable journeys, humiliation, and money. According to the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling, states cannot regulate abortion if it “places an undue burden on women.” That’s the decision to be made this year about the state laws stopping poor women from obtaining their constitutional rights in reproductive care.

This summary is a beginning description of the “undue burden” of state laws on a simple procedure that can save women’s lives. According to Professor of Law Michael Dorf, the court will have to investigate if the laws mandating hospital standards at a clinic are an unnecessary health regulation—and thus unconstitutional because they are blocking women from their legally fundamental right to have abortions.

January 4, 2016

Oregon Insurrectionists Live off Government

Overthrowing the U.S. government can be expensive. That’s why Daniel Brewer needs his federal disability check to join the attempted government overthrow on the Malheur Wildlife National Refuge in Harney County (OR). On a posting for people to come help the “militia,” Brewer commented:

“$300 it’s a shame. The Federal Government can’t get my disability straight. $300 I and my Sons could be there. Shoulder to shoulder. My heart tells me to get there. I simply can’t find the gas money. I’m so sorry. I know I can make a difference. My prayers, are with you. I feel so bad its $ keeps me from doing what my heart tells me is right. If they want blood, make sure it’s theirs my brothers and Sisters. Damn. Please lord find me a way to help these people…. Amen.”

Brewer’s position is similar to that of the woman who wrote President Obama: “I don’t want government-run health care. I don’t want socialized medicine. And don’t touch my Medicare.”

Maybe Ammon Bundy could send some of his government money to Brewer. Although Bundy’s father, Cliven, refuses to pay the $1 million in grazing fees owed to the federal government, it loaned Ammon Bundy $530,000 to start Valet Fleet which services semitrucks throughout Arizona. There is no public record about how the money was spent or whether it was repaid.

The people who who took over a federal building now need snacks, according to anti-government terrorist Blaine Cooper. Ammon Bundy had said that they had planned for months; evidently the plan didn’t include packing “snacks.” Cooper’s desperate message stated:

“We do not stand for fame or fortune….We don’t want your money. If you have supplies or snacks … please send them to the address above…. The last sentence in the Declaration of Independence reads: And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Who knew that meant snacks! And sent through U.S. mail—paid for by the U.S. government. The occupiers also want a government handout, free land. They have support from conservative lawmakers in at least nine western states who want to take over federal lands in order to make a profit off them—possibly even selling the lands to private owners.

Ranchers grazing cattle on public land are getting a much better deal by paying the federal government instead of private owners. BLM fees for grazing are 93 percent than on private land and become cheaper as the years go on. In 2012, annual fees were $1.35 for supporting a cow and her calf for a month. In 2014, grazing fees covered only 15 percent of the bureau’s costs to maintain the lands.

The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, home to 320 bird species, is a “tool of tyranny,” according to Ammon Bundy. Actually, it’s a major tourist attraction and staple of local economy, drawing visitors from all over the world. Bundy wants to give the land, which President Ulysses S. Grant, gave to the Paiutes, “back to the people,” but the people had access to it until Bundy and his tribe moved in. Children in Harney County can’t even go to school now because of Ammon Bundy. The group, now know known as Ya’llQueda are illegally occupying federal land for what they see as their constitution rights to burn public lands, use taxpayer money to freely graze cattle, and ride their ATVs to destroy archaeological sites.

The occupiers started by claiming that they are protesting the Hammonds’ being sent back to prison. The two men flew down to southern California before turning themselves in at the Terminal Island federal correctional facility in San Pedro. The lawbreakers no longer have an excuse to be in central Oregon illegally living in a federal building.

One anti-federal extremist, “Captain Moroni,” claims that the Mormon religion inspired the insurrection. In that religion, Moroni organized weapons, strategy, and tactics to allow Nephites to worship and govern as they wished. Like Christians, Mormon protesters claim that Jesus inspired the U.S. Constitution, making the document scripture. The man calling himself Captain Moroni said he was inspired by a call to come to Oregon: “I’m willing to die here.”

These so-called “conservatives” are opposing a century of GOP-led commitment to conservation and the protection of wildlife initiated by GOP President Theodore Roosevelt, who established the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 1908. It is “one of the crown jewels of the National Wildlife Refuge System,” according to the Audubon Society of Portland, “and belongs to all Americans.” Bob Sallinger said:

“The occupation of Malheur by armed, out of state militia groups puts one of America’s most important wildlife refuges at risk. It violates the most basic principles of the Public Trust Doctrine and holds hostage public lands and public resources to serve the very narrow political agenda of the occupiers. The occupiers have used the flimsiest of pretexts to justify their actions—the conviction of two local ranchers in a case involving arson and poaching on public lands. Notably, neither the local community nor the individuals convicted have requested or endorsed the occupation or the assistance of militia groups.”

The news repeatedly states that the event in Burns (OR) is an “occupation” following “a peaceful protest” and “an expression of anti-government sentiment.” An examination of the situation, however, shows that it is a gang of people with guns who declare themselves outside the law and plan to overthrow the government.

One state legislator who supports Bundy and his people is GOP lawmaker Any Holt in Tennessee who doesn’t see the problem with the “militia” despite Article III of the Constitution:

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

And U.S.C.S 2383 follows up:

“Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”

Instead of pursuing the illegality of the “militia’s” actions, the media follows the event with a certain level of bemusement. talks to whites occupying a federal building in Oregon about how they cook, find bunks, etc. In contrast, black protesters–labeled by Fox as “terrorists,” “Nazis,” “sub-human,” a “hate group,” “extremists,” “thugs,” “rioters,” and “grave threats” to the police–are killed.

  • Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was murdered with impunity within two seconds after a police officer saw him with a toy gun.
  • Laquan McDonald was killed with 16 shots in one-fourth of a minute as he walked away from police officers.
  • In 1985, heavily armed members of MOVE in Philadelphia were surrounded by police answering a noise complaint and bombed by a military helicopter. The fire destroyed several blocks and killed 11 people, including five children.
  • When armed supporters of the American Indian Movement occupied the town of Wounded Knee (SD) in 1973, police, military, and FBI created a war zone on the reservation and killed two AIM members. They just wanted the federal government to honor their treaties by granting Indians greater control of their own lands.
  • Gun control in the 1960s came after armed Black Panthers peacefully marched on the California capitol in Sacramento.

Law enforcement analyst and retired U.S. marshal Art Roderick drew a comparison between heavily armed whites and unarmed blacks. As black people pose no violent threat in their neighborhood, law enforcement pulls out military gear to force protesters to disperse. Faced with heavily-armed white “militias,” law enforcement works on a peaceful resolution.

Many of the people now in Oregon pulled guns on law enforcement in Nevada with a declaration to seize land nationwide but faced no criminal charges for sedition. That experience allows them to believe, perhaps correctly, that they will not face any prosecution for their treasonous actions. Meanwhile, they try to overthrow the government that provides them with their livelihood.

Late this afternoon, Ammon Bundy said that the insurrectionists will leave the community if it asks them to. Maybe they’re running out of food—and snacks. If they leave, they’re sure to pop up somewhere else to create more havoc and get more publicity.

January 3, 2016

Media Coddles White Lawbreakers in Oregon

Two central Oregon ranchers, father and son, were convicted of arson on public land in 2012 in an attempt to cover up an illegal deer slaughter on federal land in 2001. U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan Dwight ruled that Hammond, 73, spend three months in prison, and his son, 46-year-old Stephen, be incarcerated for a year. Under Amanda Marshall, then U.S. attorney for Oregon, a successful government appeal under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 changed the minimum sentence to five years, and the Hammonds are due to report back to prison tomorrow. At the trial, witnesses, including a relative of Hammonds, had testified that Steven Hammond handed out “Strike Anywhere” matches with instructions that they be lit and dropped on the ground because they were going to “light up the whole country on fire.” The government spent $600,000 fighting the fires.

watch towerEnter heavily armed gun-toting men this past November, including at three sons of Cliven Bundy, who had gathered around the Nevada rancher and aimed their guns at federal officials last year because they thought that Bundy shouldn’t have to pay his debt to the U.S. government for grazing his cattle on public land. After parading around the small town of Burns, they took over the federal building at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, created 30 miles southeast of Burns by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 from unclaimed government lands. The occupiers declare that they will occupy the facility for “years” and are calling on “patriots” to join them and bring their guns. [Refuge watch tower above]

The men’t goal is not to protect the Hammonds but force the federal government to give the land to local ranchers, miners, and loggers. The land in question was once part of a Northern Paiute reservation established by President Ulysses S. Grant, but whites used violence to force the Paiutes off the reservation in the late 19th century.

ammon bundyClosed for the holiday weekend, the building is now being monitored by federal officials, and Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward warned people to avoid the area. The Bundys claimed that about 150 people were in the building, but witnesses report between 12 and 15 are there. Ammon Bundy (right) said, “We are not hurting anybody or damaging any property. We would expect that they understand that we have given them no reason to use lethal force upon us or any other force.” Cliven Bundy said, “If the Hammonds wouldn’t stand …, the people had to do something.”

Several GOP presidential candidates support the Bundys’ actions. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) calls for private ownership of federal land, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) agrees with Paul and blames President Obama for his “assault” on “liberty.” Ben Carson calls the Bundy group “pretty outstanding people” before he rambles on into “freedom.” Donald Trump said, “I like him, I like his spirit, his spunk and the people that are so loyal…I respect him.” Mike Huckabee is another strong Bundy supporter.

The Hammonds are willing to go back to prison,  and many Burns’ residents, who have posted signs with “Militia go home,” are unhappy with the out-of-towners wandering the town while openly carrying guns. Rancher Melodi Molp said that the Bundys “are way more aggressive than what we want to do,” and Candy Tiller said, “I’m worried that there’s a trigger-happy idiot out there.”  She added, “This is crazy. This does not fit. These people need to go away.” Chris Briels, Burns fire chief for 24 years, said that the militia “seems like a bunch of people ready to shoot.  I don’t want that in my county.” Rancher Gary Marshall wants the Bundys to let the community “think and decide for ourselves” and said that 50 percent of the employed people in the county of about 7,000 people work for the government. “A lot of the people who work at the BLM are of families of the community,” said Marshall. “It’s not in any way a ‘them against us’ kind of a scenario here.”

Federal employees report they have been followed around town and to their homes. Three men, one of them with a gun strapped to his hip, and a woman went up to the county sheriff’s parents at an American Legion yard sale. When they criticized the sheriff, his 74-year-old mother, accompanied by the sheriff’s 78-year-old father, said that she didn’t need their protection from the government. Later the men went to the sheriff to say that she had threatened them.

After Sheriff Ward told “militia” organizers that he would not give sanctuary to the Hammonds, he received death threats from people in other states who called him an “enemy of the people.” He said, “What we’ve been threatened with here is civil unrest and the insinuations of armed rebellion.” According to Ward, the groups has come to town under false pretenses: instead of supporting local ranchers, they want to overthrow the government.

Mainstream media expresses little concern about a group of armed men taking over a federal building, depicting the event as a “peaceful protest.” Fox’s early report overlooked the danger of men in camo outfits with long guns who are frightening Harney County’s residents. Ryan Bundy tweeted that the self-appointed “militia” are “willing to kill and be killed if necessary.” Ammon Bundy said, “We’re planning on staying here for years, absolutely. This is not a decision we’ve made at the last minute.” One member of the group, Jon Ritzheimer, posted a goodbye video to his family on YouTube today and said “I want to die a free man.” For safety purposes, Harney County schools will be closed this week.

ABC didn’t bother to investigate the explosive situation: the network merely copied Fox news with the headline, “Peaceful Protest Followed by Oregon Wildlife Refuge Action.” NBC’s headline calls the armed men “Rancher’s Rights Protesters.”

The state’s largest newspaper, The Oregonian, used its conservative bent to whitewash past events concerning the Hammonds although a few facts can be cleaned from this article.

  • In 1994, Dwight Hammond was arrested, but not prosecuted, in his dispute regarding water access with the refuge managers when he tried to stop a fence to keep out his cattle.
  • In 1999, Steven Hammond fired shots at hunters on federal land but claimed he was shooting at rabbits. He objected to “authorized commercial hunting of wildlife that temporarily wandered onto barren public land from private land lush with forage” but was convicted of interfering with use of public land.
  • In 2001 the Hammonds claimed that they lit the 2001 fire to take out invasive juniper and didn’t see any reason to put the fire out when it reached public land. They were convicted of arson because of poaching.
  • In 2006, the Hammonds list another fire to keep a lightning-caused fire from burning only the Hammonds’ ranch in spite of a countywide burn ban and endangering firefighters camped nearby.
  • In 2007, the Hammonds were investigated for child abuse. Stephen Hammond, upset because a 16-year-old boy living with them carved initials in his chest with a paperclip, used coarse sand paper to sand them off. Hammond’s mother, Susan told the teen to clean up and “not to have a pity party.” Her husband, Dwight, said it was “decided by the family” to sand off the initials.

According to a new poll, conservative whites are angrier than the rest of the population in the United States because they feel more oppressed than any other group, often from their feelings about having a black president. Three-fourths of Republicans get angry every day about current events, and at least one-third of white people—over three-fourths of the people in the United States—own guns. Exploited by conservative politicians and media, these expressions of fear become increasingly toxic, resulting in the acquisition of increasing gun ownership by people who plan to take over the government. Combining this anger with guns results in increased gun violence.

Meet the Press host Chuck Todd did his usual avoidance of conservative views regarding the latest “militia” standoff. He didn’t asked interview guest Paul anything about the situation, and he nodded sagely while hard-right panelists Washington Post columnists Jennifer Rubin and Sara Fagen, the latter a former political director for George W. Bush’s administration, blamed a weak president and bad foreign policy for all the anger.

Tonight, CBS Evening News segment showed a benign view of the ranchers who determined that they could take public land by force through arson and other acts of violence, one man who abused a teenager, and a group of heavily armed men who charmingly said that they meant no harm as long as the law gave them whatever they wanted. The “militia” wants publicity, and they’re getting plenty of it, much of it positive  Angry armed white men are determined to overthrow the government, undermine the courts, and receive positive media attention for their actions, and the media media is obliging them–because they are white.

« Previous Page

© blogfactory

Genuine news

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily News

Transformational News; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

Rainbow round table news

Official News Outlet for the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: