2015-06 June

People for the West -Tucson

PO Box 86868, Tucson, AZ 85754-6868 pfw-tucson@cox.net

Newsletter, June, 2015

Reconsidering the Patriot Act

by Jonathan DuHamel

Following attacks by Islamic terrorists on September 11, 2001 and anthrax attacks a few weeks later, Congress signed into law the USA Patriot Act on October 26, 2001. Among its provisions are roving wiretaps, searches of business records, and conducting surveillance of “lone wolves” – individuals suspected of terrorist-related activities not linked to terrorist groups. We have seen many Constitutional abuses under the Act which is up for re-authorization this year. Congress should carefully consider the wisdom of continuing this law. The reasons are stated in the article below which appeared in the November 2001 issue of this newsletter.

Thoughts on Freedom and Security

by Jonathan DuHamel

Recent polls indicate that many people would willingly give up some of their civil liberties in return for more “security.” I find that appalling. Maybe these unthinking people are comfortable about giving up some rights when the question is posed as a generality, but would answer differently if asked about giving up specific rights. One can only hope. For instance, maybe they think freedom of the press should be curbed when television news programs show the poor judgment of broadcasting Taliban propaganda, but would balk at being prohibited from expressing an unpopular opinion themselves. Or maybe, too many of us take our rights for granted and don’t appreciate how unique and hard-won they are.

In Germany of 1933, citizens signed away their rights “for the protection of the people and the state.” We know how that turned out. But that was an extreme case. It can’t happen here, right? Besides, we don’t have to actually sign away our rights, just bend the Fourth Amendment a little so we can more easily go after the domestic terrorists; just give up some of our privacy so the government can search our papers, tap our phones and email without obtaining specific warrants to do so. No harm in that is there? James Madison thought there was when he wrote: “there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

Some would argue that war time is an extraordinary time, requiring extraordinary measures. However, be warned, “Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.” (William Pitt in a speech to the House of Commons, Nov. 18, 1783). It was “necessary” during World War II to send Americans of Japanese decent to camps in the name of national security.

Our Constitution applies all the time, not merely when it is convenient. We can’t make exceptions just because it might be easier to catch the bad guys. To do so puts us all in danger.

What we can and should do is better enforce our existing laws, with common sense, unhampered by political correctness. Our intelligence agencies must talk to each other and share data; the INS must keep better track of legal aliens; our borders must be better secured against illegal aliens; yes, we should use “profiling” as one characteristic in judging who might be dangerous if ethnicity or national origin is relevant.

Security is risk management; we can never be completely secure in a free society. But we can do those things which truly minimize our risks rather than just give the illusion of security. When airlines resumed flying after September 11, we saw reports of baggage checkers confiscating anything sharp, even such innocuous items as nail clippers. However, they apparently did not confiscate ballpoint pens which are just as dangerous as daggers if one knows how to use them as weapons. And, later in October, airport security failed to detect a loaded derringer which a businessman inadvertently carried aboard a plane. Do baggage handlers and airport ground crews receive adequate security checks? Is our transportation industry more secure now or is it still just an illusion?

In our open society, we try to be accommodating to all and treat each individual with proper respect and deference. But we have to pay attention to both bureaucrats and would-be bombers; vigilance is still the price of liberty. (End of November, 2001 essay)

Since passage of the Patriot Act government data-mining and collection of personal information has reached unprecedented levels. Our electronic age has made gathering of personal information relatively easy and it is done, according to the government, for reasons of national security.

But, as Benjamin Franklin admonished, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Fourth Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

“The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of people.” —Justice William O. Douglas (1898-1980).

“The most unresolved problem of the day is precisely the problem that concerned the founders of this nation: how to limit the scope and power of government. Tyranny, restrictions on human freedom, come primarily from governmental restrictions that we ourselves have set up.” —Milton Friedman (1912-2006)

“Recognize that government invasion of public power is eventually an assault upon your own business. If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he’ll eat you last.” —The Gipper


The Environmental Protection Agency has become a tool of political policy rather than environmental protection. For some background, see my articles:

The EPA is destroying America

and “Replace the Environmental Protection Agency

Some recent EPA news:

EPA Plan to Ban Coal Hits Major Roadblock

By Phil Kerpen

The EPA proposal to impose a de facto ban on new coal-fired power plants received more than two million comments from the public – but it looks like it was just one five-page comment from the Energy and Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) that sent EPA scrambling back to the drawing board.

The draft rule mandated the use of so-called carbon capture and storage, a technology that would inject carbon dioxide underground but which has so far proved to be little more than a white elephant experiment. To mandate this technology, the law required the EPA to prove it was “adequately demonstrated” and “commercially available.” Thanks to E&E Legal, they failed. Read more

EPA bends federal lobbying law:

When the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a major new rule intended to protect the nation’s drinking water last year, regulators solicited opinions from the public. Gina McCarthy, the agency’s administrator, told a Senate committee in March that the agency had received more than one million comments, and nearly 90 percent favored the agency’s proposal. But critics say there is a reason for the overwhelming result: The E.P.A. had a hand in manufacturing it.

In a campaign that tests the limits of federal lobbying law, the agency orchestrated a drive to counter political opposition from Republicans and enlist public support in concert with liberal environmental groups and a grass-roots organization aligned with President Obama. See full story.

EPA’s Hidden Regulatory Agenda Should Be Pried Open

By H. Sterling Burnett, Investor’s Business Daily

It has come to the attention of some members of Congress that data and research used to justify Environmental Protection Agency regulations have been hidden, unavailable for review even by congressional committees with oversight of the EPA.

The agency’s refusal to provide this information is simply unacceptable.

Thousands of pages of new regulations are written each year, imposing hundreds of billions of dollars in costs upon American households.

But to know whether a regulation actually can achieve such lofty goals, we must be able to evaluate whether the research used to justify it is sound.

The rule should be, if the public pays for it, the public has the right to know the study’s methodologies, assumptions and raw data.

This shouldn’t even be controversial, and for most regulatory agencies it isn’t. They adhere to the rule of transparency, testing and replicability. Increasingly, however, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not do so. Read more

Two Federal Agencies Threatening Water Ways and Property Rights

On April 21, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers published a proposed rule — “Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’ Under the Clean Water Act” (CWA) — to define which waters are covered under the Clean Water Act. The proposed rule could cover almost any type of water, giving the two agencies far greater power than authorized under the CWA.

The proposed “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule is complex and vague, with little clarity coming from either agency. Three key points can help cut through the confusion and better explain the proposed rule:

The proposed rule would assert jurisdiction over numerous types of waters, including tributaries, adjacent waters and other waters. The definition for “tributaries” covers any water with a bed, banks and ordinary high water mark that contributes flow, either directly or through another water, to a traditional navigable water, interstate water, territorial sea or impoundment.

The proposed rule could drastically infringe on property rights. If a water is covered under the law, property owners could be required to secure costly and time-consuming permits to take actions that affect these waters.

The Rule Exceeds the Broadest Interpretation of Supreme Court Precedent on CWA Jurisdiction (Rapanos v. U.S. 547 U.S. 715, 2006).

Unless Congress acts before the final rule is published, probably within the next few months, this proposed power grab could soon become a reality — the agencies recently sent their final rule to the Office of Management and Budget for its approval.

Congress should emphasize in statute that water resources are best protected when the federal and state partnership outlined in the CWA is respected. Congress should also develop clear definitions for jurisdictional waters through bright-line rules and define “waters of the United States” as generally being limited to traditional navigable waters. Congress must take these important actions now.

Source: Daren Bakst, “What You Need to Know About the EPA/Corps Water Rule: It’s a Power Grab and Attack on Property Rights,” Heritage Foundation, April 29, 2015.

EPA’s Claim That Its Coal Plant CO2 Rules Will Save Lives By Reducing Particulate Matter Emissions Is False

by JunkScience.com

EPA’s Claim

: The EPA proposed on June 2, 2014 to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from coal-fired power plants by reducing the amount of coal burned. EPA claims this rule will prevent up to 6,600 premature deaths annually. These deaths would not be prevented by reducing CO2 emissions but instead by accompanying reductions in emissions of “fine particulate matter” (PM2.5) — dust or soot particles much smaller in diameter than the width of a human hair. As the rule would reduce CO2 emissions by reducing the amount of coal burned, it would similarly reduce PM2.5 emissions. The EPA views this reduction in PM2.5 emissions as a health benefit.

Scientific Reality:

PM2.5 does not kill anyone. The EPA’s claims of PM2.5 lethality rank among the most nonsensical, fraudulent and readily disprovable scientific claims ever.

EPA’s three bodies of research

: EPA claims the PM2.5-mortality hypothesis is supported by existing epidemiology, toxicology and clinical studies. This is false.


: EPA admitted in federal court that its epidemiologic studies on PM2.5 prove nothing by themselves. In 2012 litigation in which EPA attempted to justify its experiments on humans with PM2.5, EPA admitted doing the experiments because: “epidemiologic studies do not generally provide evidence of direct causation.” The purpose of the human experiments, according to EPA, was to develop a medical or biological explanation (i.e., the direct causation) that would support the merely statistical (and, by the way, controversial) results of the PM2.5 epidemiology studies.


No laboratory animal has ever died from PM2.5 in an experimental setting — even though animals have been exposed to levels of PM2.5 as much as 100+ times greater than human exposures to PM2.5 in outdoor air.

Clinical studies

: EPA has tested a variety of air pollutants — including very high exposures to PM2.5 — on over 6,000 human volunteers. Many of these volunteers were elderly or already health-compromised — the very groups EPA claims are most susceptible to dying from PM2.5 exposures. EPA has admitted that there have been no deaths or any dangerous adverse events clearly caused by these PM2.5 exposures. PM2.5 exposures in these experiments have been as high as 21 times greater than allowable by EPA’s own air quality rules.

EPA’s claim about PM2.5 causing death is not supported by the results from these research disciplines, individually or collectively. Read more


The EPA appears to have broken the law when it preemptively vetoed the Pebble Mine Project. Wall Street Journal’s latest article, “EPA’s Pebble Blame Game,” reveals more of the scandal:

“The agency digs deep for excuses—and not very good ones—to explain its veto of an Alaskan mine project…. The EPA has a problem: its pre-emptive veto of the Pebble Mine, a proposed project in southwest Alaska. The law says that Pebble gets to apply for permits, and the Army Corps of Engineers gets to give thumbs up or down. The EPA, a law unto itself, instead last year blocked the proposal before applications were even filed. The agency claims it got involved because of petitions from Native American tribes in 2010, and that its veto is based on “science”—a watershed assessment that purportedly shows the mine would cause environmental harm.”

However, Kimberley Strassel reported last week in the Wall Street Journal of “EPA documents that tell a very different story.”

They reveal the existence of an internal EPA “options paper” that make clear the agency opposed the mine on ideological grounds and had already decided to veto it in the spring of 2010—well before it did any “science.” Emails showed an EPA biologist, Phil North, working in the same time frame with an outside green activist to gin up the petitions. It’s not much of a leap to suggest that the EPA encouraged the petitions so that it would have an excuse to intervene, run its science as cover, and block a project it already opposed. Read more


Bee Facts Changed – Green Agendas Did Not

By Paul Driessen

It looks like the White House is finally going to announce policy recommendations from the Pollinator Task Force it appointed a year ago. The lengthy delay appears to result from inconvenient facts getting in the way of its “bee apocalypse” and “dangerous pesticides” narrative. A growing body of research has found that the honeybees which pollinate so many crops have recovered from the various diseases that had been decimating some colonies … and are actually doing quite well now. Other research demonstrates that the neonicotinoid pesticides are actually very safe to use – for honeybees and other beneficial insects, as well as for humans and the environment, though not for harmful insects that feed on food crops.

But environmentalist have been clamoring and campaigning for years to get tough restrictions, or an outright ban, on using neonics. They are not about to let facts get in the way of their agenda. So they have invented a new “looming crisis.” Now they claim the pesticides could be a threat to WILD bees. This con might work, because there is so little data about population trends among the many species of wild bees, though what information is available suggests that wild bees are doing OK too. Read more


The United Nation’s IPCC and other climate alarmists say all hell will break loose if the global temperature rises more than an additional 2º C (3.6ºF). See my post: “How much global warming is dangerous.”

But that wasn’t scary enough so now they have moved the goal posts:

The arrogance of the settled science

by Bob Greene

The mythical 2°C isn’t good enough, the new demand is limiting global temperature to 1.5°C rise by 2100. There is a minor worry about the food supply, but when you are saving the planet there have to be sacrifices. From Eco-Business, Cutting warming to 1.5°C could put food supply at risk

Scientists say meeting the tougher demands of many countries on limiting global temperature rise may be technically feasible, would risk worsening world hunger.

2°C rise is the mythical end of the world tipping point, but supposedly there is a demand by 100 countries to limit the rise to 1.5°C. Meeting this limit would require more bio-energy supplies, which would compete with the food supply. No one seems to notice any difficulties in actually measuring global temperatures, models that have about zero forecasting ability and missing things like the pause. The idea that so-called scientists believe they have the knob that controls the global temperature is absolute arrogance. Yet, people seem to fall for it. So, a few million starve. Well, I suppose there are too many people anyway and some have to sacrifice when there is a planet to be saved. Source

Climate activists targeting children with range of ‘cli-fi’ novels

By Sarah Knapton, London Telegraph

Climate activists are targeting children through a new range of ‘cli-fi’ – climate fiction – novels which seek to highlight the dangers of global warming. David Thorpe, author of the book Stormteller, said that children were more open minded and claimed that writers could ‘infect’ their minds with ‘seriously subversive viral ideas’. Read full article Also see this article titled “Green Activists Explain How to Brainwash Children with Climate Pornography.” So far, this is happening mainly in Britain.

Why the US had unusual weather last year

In this article, Nicholas A. Bond, Research Meteorologist at University of Washington, explains “the blob” of warm air in the eastern Pacific that brought freezing temperatures to the northeastern US and dry, warm weather to the west. Bond concludes, “This happens to be a pattern that has occurred before in association with decades-long shifts in ocean temperature known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). Previous expressions of the PDO have had major and wide-ranging impacts on the marine ecosystem including salmon and other species of fish; recent developments are receiving a great deal of attention from fishery-oceanographers along the West Coast.” Read full article.

Related article:

Decadal modulation of global surface temperature by internal climate variability

A new paper in Nature postulates that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is principally responsible for recent global temperatures (read abstract here).

“Despite a steady increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases, global-mean surface temperature has shown no discernible warming since about 2000, in sharp contrast to model simulations, which on average project strong warming. The recent slowdown in observed surface warming has been attributed to decadal cooling in the tropical Pacific, intensifying trade winds, changes in El Niño activity, increasing volcanic activity, and decreasing solar irradiance. We show that the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) has been associated with large temperature anomalies over both ocean and land. Combined with another leading mode of internal climate variability, the IPO explains most of the difference between observed and model-simulated rates of decadal change in global-mean temperature since 1920, and particularly over the so-called ‘hiatus’ period since about 2000.” The authors also warn, “Recent history suggests that the IPO could reverse course and lead to accelerated global warming in the coming decades.”

Weather channel predicting

“A large part of the central and eastern United States can expect relatively cool conditions during June, July and August, according to the temperature forecast released by The Weather Channel Professional Division on Friday.” They are basing this prediction on a projected strong El Nino. “Two other years where a strong El Nino developed by late summer or later – 1982 and 1997 – were used as analogs for what might occur this summer. In those two years, temperatures were overall cooler-than-average across a large portion of the United States.” Read more

Water Vapor Rules the Greenhouse System

by Monte Hieb (this is from 2007 but still holds true)

Just how much of the “Greenhouse Effect” is caused by human activity?

It is about 0.28%, if water vapor is taken into account– about 5.53%, if not.

This point is so crucial to the debate over global warming that how water vapor is or isn’t factored into an analysis of Earth’s greenhouse gases makes the difference between describing a significant human contribution to the greenhouse effect, or a negligible one.

Water vapor constitutes Earth’s most significant greenhouse gas, accounting for about 95% of Earth’s greenhouse effect (5). Interestingly, many “facts and figures” regarding global warming completely ignore the powerful effects of water vapor in the greenhouse system, carelessly (perhaps, deliberately) overstating human impacts as much as 20-fold.

Water vapor is 99.999% of natural origin. Other atmospheric greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and miscellaneous other gases (CFC’s, etc.), are also mostly of natural origin (except for the latter, which is mostly anthropogenic).

Human activites contribute slightly to greenhouse gas concentrations through farming, manufacturing, power generation, and transportation. However, these emissions are so dwarfed in comparison to emissions from natural sources we can do nothing about, that even the most costly efforts to limit human emissions would have a very small– perhaps undetectable– effect on global climate.

For those interested in more details a series of data sets and charts have been assembled below in a 5-step statistical synopsis. Read more

Study finds that cold weather kills 20 times more people than hot weather

Cold weather kills 20 times as many people as hot weather, according to an international study analyzing over 74 million deaths in 384 locations across 13 countries. The findings, published in The Lancet, also reveal that deaths due to moderately hot or cold weather substantially exceed those resulting from extreme heat waves or cold spells.

Around 7.71% of all deaths were caused by non-optimal temperatures, with substantial differences between countries, ranging from around 3% in Thailand, Brazil, and Sweden to about 11% in China, Italy, and Japan. Cold was responsible for the majority of these deaths (7.29% of all deaths), while just 0.42% of all deaths were attributable to heat.

The study also found that extreme temperatures were responsible for less than 1% of all deaths, while mildly sub-optimal temperatures accounted for around 7% of all deaths — with most (6.66% of all deaths) related to moderate cold. Source

Climate expert John Christy: U.S. emission cuts won’t make difference

Climate expert John Christy of Huntsville told a congressional hearing that no matter what the U.S. does to curtail fossil fuel emissions, it will make virtually no difference.

“Our affect would be between five- and eight-hundredths of a degree,” Christy said. “We would not even be able to measure any sea level change. It would be so tiny as to be immeasurable.

“By the way, sea levels have been rising for 20,000 years. It will continue to rise no matter what anybody does about their emissions.” Source

22 Very Inconvenient Climate Truths

by Jean-Pierre Bardinet

Here are 22 good reasons not to believe the statements made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Read full post. This is a very long post – 65 pages. The author lists the reasons, each with a short explanation and then gets into supporting evidence in the remainder of the post. Here are some of his major points:

The Mean Global Temperature has been stable since 1997, despite a continuous increase of the CO2 content of the air.

57% of the cumulative anthropic emissions since the beginning of the Industrial revolution have been emitted since 1997, but the temperature has been stable.

The amount of CO2 of the air from anthropic emissions is today no more than 6% of the total CO2 in the air (as shown by the isotopic ratios 13C/12C).

The lifetime of CO2 molecules in the atmosphere is about 5 years instead of the 100 years said by IPCC.

The changes of the Mean Global Temperature are more or less sinusoidal with a well defined 60 year period. We are at a maximum of the sinusoid(s) and hence the next years should be cooler as has been observed after 1950.

The absorption of the radiation from the surface by the CO2 of the air is nearly saturated.

The “hot spot” in the inter-tropical high troposphere is, according to all “models” and to the IPCC reports, the indubitable proof of the water vapour feedback amplification of the warming: it has not been observed and does not exist.

A benefit of increased Carbon Dioxide: increased efficiency in tree growth

Over the course of the 20th century, the so-called water use efficiency has risen nearly 20% from the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

Trees take up carbon dioxide from the air through tiny pores on their leaves called stomata and they lose water through these same pores.

When the CO2 concentration in the air increases, the size of the stomatal opening reduces to regulate the amount of carbon acquired which minimizes the water lost. As a result the so-called water use efficiency increases. Source

The Iceman Cometh?

by Paul Driessen

President Obama, Al Gore and other alarmists continue to prophesy manmade global warming crises, brought on by our “unsustainable” reliance on fossil fuels. Modelers like Mike Mann and Gavin Schmidt conjure up illusory crisis “scenarios” based on the assumption that carbon dioxide emissions now drive climate change. A trillion-dollar Climate Crisis industry self-servingly echoes their claims.

But what if these merchants of fear are wrong? What if the sun refuses to cooperate with the alarmists?

“The sun is almost completely blank,” meteorologist Paul Dorian notes. Virtually no sunspots darken the blinding yellow orb. “The main driver of all weather and climate … has gone quiet again during what is likely to be the weakest sunspot cycle in more than a century. Not since February 1906 has there been a solar cycle with fewer sunspots.”

“Going back to 1755, there have been only a few solar cycles that have had a lower number of sunspots during their maximum phase,” Dorian continues. This continued downward trend in solar sunspot cycles began over 20 years ago, when Earth stopped warming. If it continues for a couple more cycles, Earth could be entering another “grand minimum,” an extended period of low solar activity.

That would mean less incoming solar radiation, which could have a marked cooling effect – as happened during previous decades-long episodes of low solar activity. The “Maunder Minimum” lasted 70 years (1645-1715), the “Dalton Minimum” 40 years (1790-1830); they brought even colder global temperatures to the “Little Ice Age.” Read more


Ethanol refining may release more of some pollutants than previously thought

American Geophysical Union

Ethanol fuel refineries could be releasing much larger amounts of some ozone-forming compounds into the atmosphere than current assessments suggest, according to a new study that found emissions of these chemicals at a major ethanol fuel refinery are many times higher than government estimates.

New airborne measurements downwind from an ethanol fuel refinery in Decatur, Illinois, show that ethanol emissions are 30 times higher than government estimates. The measurements also show emissions of all volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which include ethanol, were five times higher than government numbers, which estimate emissions based on manufacturing information. VOCs and nitrogen oxides react with sunlight to form ground-level ozone, the main component of smog.

If emissions at the more than 200ppm other ethanol refineries in the U.S. are also being underestimated, these plants could be a higher source of VOC emissions than currently thought, according to the new findings accepted for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, a publication of the American Geophysical Union. Source


Time to Move on from the Endangered Species Act

by Bette Grande, Heartland Intitute

The Endangered Species Act, and how the Act is being used, should be a priority both in the States and in Washington, D.C.

The Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) in its current form has been around since 1973. Supposed environmental legislation from the early 70’s (the ESA, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the EPA itself) was pushed and passed by the Nixon administration and has been the foundation for environmental activism ever since. In 1973 there were 137 species listed under the Act and by August, 2014 the number had grown to 1,560 with over 757 additional species under consideration by 2018.

Lately the ESA has been used to limit energy development, or at least make it more expensive. But it is far more than energy development that is affected. Agriculture and personal property rights are targets as well. The overreach by the federal government reaches across the country.

The ESA and the other Acts mentioned above come with impressive titles, but the results are not very impressive. The federal government has gained control of more and more private property, and worked with environmentalists to slow and stop economic development in vast areas of our country costing taxpayers millions of dollars. And after all of that, the record of saving “endangered species” is incredibly poor.

For a good background on the ESA see “It’s time to Endanger the Endangered Species Act” by Taylor Smith of the Heartland Institute. Read more

PLF sues over feds’ regs for ‘phantom jaguar’ in New Mexico

The designation of tens of thousands of acres as “critical habitat” for the jaguar is illogical and illegal because the species hasn’t been present in the region for years. Attorneys with Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) have just sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for illegally designating tens of thousands of acres in New Mexico’s Hidalgo County as “critical habitat” for the jaguar even though the species has not been sighted in the county, or anywhere else in New Mexico, for years; indeed, the state doesn’t even have any environmental features that are essential to jaguar recovery. Read more

How California Cities Are Making Millions Seizing Property and Money From Law-Abiding Citizens

by Melissa Quinn, Daily Signal

In a small number of cities clustered in Los Angeles County, Calif., people are seeing their property and money seized by law enforcement through civil asset forfeiture, and it’s making police departments tens of millions of dollars.

California has safeguards in place to protect innocent people from the harmful practices of civil asset forfeiture. However, a new report from the Drug Policy Alliance found that such measures haven’t stopped law enforcement agencies from using federal forfeiture laws to circumvent state policies.

The Drug Policy Alliance, an organization focused on drug policy reforms, examined the cities that lead California in seizures per capita. The cities—Baldwin Park, Beverly Hills, Gardena, Irwindale, La Verne, Pomona, South Gate, Vernon and West Covina—are all located around Los Angeles County and collected more than $43 million in revenue from forfeitures between 2006 and 2013.

“We use federal forfeiture,” Baldwin Park Police Capt. David Reynoso told the Drug Policy Alliance. “It’s just more beneficial to us.” Read full story

Civil Asset Forfeiture: Good Intentions Gone Awry and the Need for Reform

By John Malcolm, Heritage Foundation

Despite civil asset forfeiture’s noble intentions, the many stories of innocent victims and law enforcement abuses prove that the pendulum has swung too far in favor of law enforcement. In reforming forfeiture laws, however, we must be careful not to swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction. The process should be made fairer and more transparent, the profit incentive of forfeiture should be abolished or severely constrained, and there should be greater oversight. Civil asset forfeiture should be returned to its original purpose: penalizing those who seek to profit from their illegal activities. If such funds were deposited into the general treasury, nothing would preclude law enforcement authorities from going to Congress or their state legislatures and seeking an increase in their budgets or victims’ compensation funds. Read full report

Report Reveals Hidden Tax of Federal Regulation Reaches $1.88 Trillion

In the latest edition of Ten Thousand Commandments, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) reveals the latest on the large, growing “hidden tax” of America’s regulatory state. The annual report indicates a $1.88 trillion hit to Americans consumers and the U.S. economy in 2014 due to federal regulations and intervention.

“The federal government’s reach extends well beyond Washington’s taxes, deficits, and borrowing,” said Crews. “Federal environmental, safety and health, and economic regulations affect the economy by hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Regulatory compliance costs borne by businesses will find their way into the prices that consumers pay, affect the wages workers earn, and lead to lower levels of growth and prosperity.”

Read summary here. Read the entire report here.

Is there such a thing as a “Natural GMO”?

By Michaeleen Doucleff, NPR

The first genetically modified crop wasn’t made by a mega-corporation. Or a college scientist trying to design a more durable tomato. Nope. Nature did it at least 8,000 years ago.

Well, actually bacteria in the soil were the engineers. And the microbe’s handiwork is present in sweet potatoes all around the world today.

Scientists at the International Potato Center in Lima, Peru, have found genes from bacteria in 291 sweet potato varieties, including ones grown in the U.S., Indonesia, China, parts of South America and Africa. The findings suggest bacteria inserted the genes into the crop’s wild ancestor, long before humans started cooking up sweet potato fries.

“People have been eating a GMO for thousands of years without knowing it,” says virologist Jan Kreuze, who led the study. He and his colleagues reported their findings last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read more

Protecting sage grouse could hurt military, report says

Fox News

Efforts to protect the greater sage grouse under the federal Endangered Species Act could hurt training operations at numerous U.S. military facilities in the West, according to a new report by the Army.

The report looked at the impact of protecting sage grouse on the Yakima Training Center in Washington; Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada; the Wyoming National Guard; Tooele Army Depot and Dugway Proving Ground in Utah

It found that protecting the birds would restrict the availability of training lands; limit the size of training lands and ranges; restrict the use of firing points; and impose restrictions on future development and construction. . Read more

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