In Wyoming, Reporting Environmental Damage Could Land You in Prison
A law passed by Wyoming Republicans officially makes it illegal for citizens to collect evidence of pollution on public land that could lead to a government investigation of environmental destruction.
Wyoming Governor Matt Mead signed Senate Bill 12 into law in March making it a criminal offense to “collect resource data,” such as photographs of polluted waterways and land that is private, public, or federal outside of city limits. Violators of the law could face a $5,000 fine and/or prison time. According to ThinkProgress,
Under the law “collect” means to “take a sample of material, acquire, gather, photograph or otherwise preserve information in any form from open land which is submitted, or intended to be submitted to any agency of the state, or federal government.” The laws says that only citizens who are given express permission to collect such evidence can actually do so, which quite frankly makes it easier for public and private employees to cover up environmental wrongdoing. For example, if a cattle rancher allows his herd to graze too close to public waterways on public land and the cattle cause an E. coli outbreak in the water that could poison people, citizens who collect evidence of this to report to government agencies would be subject to prosecution. In short, the law is an effort to silence and censor whiste-blowers and environmental activists from proving that landowners are illegally polluting public lands.
The Wyoming Sierra Club condemned the law in a statement to ThinkProgress as a broad effort to prevent scientific research and other efforts to help protect the environment.
“We are deeply concerned that this poorly written and overly vague bill will prevent concerned citizens and students from undertaking valuable research projects on public lands, out of fear of accidentally running afoul of the new law (the scope of which no one clearly understands) and being criminally and civilly prosecuted. There is no need for this new bill, and we can only conclude that it is an attempt by private landowners to scare people away from valid research efforts on public land.”
This effort by Wyoming Republicans happened at the same time that Republicans in the United States Senate voted unanimously to sell public lands, including national forests and waterways, to states whose conservative governments will likely turn around and sell those lands to private industry for mining, logging, and drilling.
Why conceal this information instead of using it to clean up the environment?
According to a recent Slate article, a local environmental group found that many Wyoming streams are contaminated by E. coli bacteria. That contamination comes from cow waste that has seeped into waterways. Ranchers don’t want to change their operations, cutting off the source of the pollution. Instead, they chose to cut off the source of complaints.
We’ve seen this strategy from big animal ag interests before.
More than 20 state legislatures have introduced bills limiting public access to information about animal farming since 2011; four have passed. So-called ag-gag laws are aimed at whistleblower workers and concerned neighbors who share photos or videos from factory farms. This “gags” people from coming forward to report food safety threats, workers’ abuses, environmental problems, and animal welfare issues. Many of these laws are based on a “model law” drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 2002. ALEC is a conservative group for state legislators funded by corporations. The group promotes an anti-regulatory, pro-industry agenda.
Of all the industries that would benefit from citizen oversight, the beef industry, which has seen drastic cuts in government inspectors, may rank the highest.
Here are just a few reasons why:
Working on a factory farm or in a slaughterhouse is a dangerous job. Workers labor for long hours, are paid little, and experience high injury rates.
Animal waste can contain high concentrations of Salmonella, E. coli, and Cryptosporidium. These pathogens, along with antibiotics, ammonia, heavy metals, and hormones can end up in waterways humans use for drinking and swimming.
Time and time again, whistleblowers have come forward with horrific accounts of animal abuses. In a recent investigation in Wisconsin, video shows workers cutting off cows’ tails with pruning shears, spraying them in the face with high-pressure water hoses, and dragging them by their necks with ropes attached to tractors.
The meat industry has argued for self-regulation to avoid government inspectors. And they have threatened workers who come forward with complaints of illegal and unethical behavior.
We live in a democracy; it’s time we start behaving like one. State legislatures should not be able to suppress information or muzzle citizen activism intended to improve our health and safety.
Danny F. Quest, is an artist, blogger, journalist, and media personality. Co. Founder of TheTruther.us, Danny works as a Freelance journalist and graphic designer for WeAreChange.org, author of ‘120 characters or less’ The guide to winning a debate in the Digtal age. Danny is also working on two documentary films, I love my country but hate what they are doing” and “30 days in Gaza” depicting what it is for Palestinians to live under Israeli occupation.
The world’s most powerful people have come together to meet and discuss world affairs in secret yet again, this time in Sitges, Spain.
The Bilderberg Group is an unofficial conference of around 150 invitation-only guests who are insiders in politics, banking, business, the military and the media. The group’s meetings are held in secret and are closed to the public; the group supposedly meets to strategize global politics and economics for the coming year. The current conference is being held at a luxury hotel in Sitges, Spain under heavy security.
Many are still unaware of the group’s existence, but those who are aware are more concerned about the organizations secrecy than their mere existence.
“All the bad things are always done in darkness,”said Luke Rudkowski of We Are Change.
Rudkowski argues that the group meets and plans out the coming year’s worth of global economic and political events. Using the examples of the rise in oil prices in the past to the downfall of the US economy, Rudkowski said these were procedural steps in the process to meet their end game, which is a single world economic and governance system controlled by the world bank and IMF, eventually leading to a one world currency implemented by the G8 and G20.
“They want to destroy the American dollar in order to have a one world government currency,” said Rudkowski.
The current meeting is an effort to strategize a recovery for the Euro to ensure its success as a currency to weaken the dollar and push the US into a regional block known as the North American Union.
“You could say the American economy is doing fine right now, let’s see what is going to happen within the years because we gave $24 trillion according to Bloomberg news to the wall street banksters. Timothy Geithner was in charge of that, he goes to these meetings as well,” said Rudkowski.
According to Rudkowski, the individuals behind the Bilderberg Group want to “destroy American sovereignty and freedom” to further their goal of a global consolidation of power.
“We cannot allow these psychotic elites to rule our lives and we have to stand up for what’s really right and expose them for what they are,” said Rudkowski.
Rudkowski argues that the Greek debt crisis occurred because of faulty loans by Goldman Sachs that were essentially the efforts of the Bilderberg Group to rush their plans to consolidate power and integration in Europe.
In the United States, Rudkowski argues that Americans are breaking the law by attending these secret meetings, specifically citing the Logan Act. The Logan Act is a US law that prohibits private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments.
“Do you feel comfortable with your decisions of our life being made by undemocratic illegal plutocratic psychotic elites?” asked Rudkowski.
A former rising star at the CIA accused of drugging, raping and taping Muslim women while stationed in the Middle East appeared before a federal judge in Virginia today after skipping a pre-trial hearing more than a week ago and going on what sources called an apparent drug binge. Andrew Warren was arrested after an intensive search by federal officials concerned he might be a danger to himself.
A U.S. government employee in Algeria allegedly drugged victims.
According to two federal law enforcement sources, drug paraphernalia and a handgun were found in the Virginia motel room where Warren, former CIA chief of station in Algeria, was arrested. Warren sat in a wheelchair during his Monday afternoon court appearance.
A person close to Warren told ABC News that State Department officials began searching for Warren 11 days ago after he missed a routine pre-trial appearance and could not be found. “His phones were shut off, and none of his family or friends had heard from him,” the person told ABC News.
Warren, 42, was located after federal law enforcement officers reached out to his friends and family, warning them that they were concerned for Warren’s safety and believed he was armed and consuming crack cocaine. He was arrested by local police, U.S. Marshals and the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service at a Norfolk, Virginia Ramada Limited hotel late Monday. He was taken by law enforcement officials to a local hospital.
The former station chief’s fall from grace has been dramatic. According to two former CIA officials, Warren was a rising star at the CIA. He was a fluent Arabic speaker who had converted to Islam, making him an ideal officer in the Middle East for the intelligence agency. Officially, however, CIA has refused to acknowledge Warren was their spy.
Before being posted to Algeria, Warren had served in Egypt, Afghanistan, and a stint in that CIA domestic station in New York. It was in New York, a few years after 9/11, that supervisors spotted him as a potential star, ready to be deployed around the world as a spy. Within a very short time – four years – Warren had been posted as station chief in Algeria.
Warren worked for the agency in the Middle East until October 2008, until he was recalled from the region and then fired after two women came forward and accused him of rape, accusations which were first reported by ABC News’ Brian Ross in January 2009. He was charged with one federal count of sexual abuse in June.
Stephen Ohlemacher, On Thursday April 22, 2010, 8:06 pm EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 4 million Americans — the vast majority of them middle class — will have to pay a penalty if they don’t get insurance when President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law kicks in, according to congressional estimates released Thursday.
The penalties will average a little more than $1,000 apiece in 2016, the Congressional Budget Office said in a report.
Most of the people paying the fine will be middle class as Obama’s comprehensive law is phased in over the next few years. In his 2008 campaign for the White House, Obama pledged not to raise taxes on individuals making less than $200,000 a year and couples making less than $250,000.
Republicans have criticized the requirement that Americans get coverage, even though the idea was originally proposed by the GOP in the 1990s and is part of the Massachusetts health care plan signed into law in 2006 by then Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican. Attorneys general in more than a dozen states are working to challenge it in federal court as unconstitutional.
“The individual mandate tax will fall hardest on Americans who can least afford to pay it, many of whom were promised subsidies by the Democrats and who the president has promised would not pay higher taxes,” saidRep. Dave Camp of Michigan, the top Republican on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said while Obama and congressional Democrats celebrate the benefits of the law, they have an obligation to acknowledge the flip side. “There’s a price for not participating, and people will pay it,” Grassley said.
Democrats argue that the requirement and the penalties are a necessary part of a massive overhaul designed to expand coverage to millions who now lack it. They point out that getting more Americans, especially young and healthy people, in the insurance pool will reduce costs for others and could lower premiums.
“The new law will make health insurance affordable for everyone and CBO’s analysis confirms that the vast majority of uninsured Americans will find health care affordable and choose to participate,” said White House spokesman Nick Papas.
Americans who don’t get qualified health insurance will be required to pay penalties starting in 2014, unless they are exempt because of low income, religious beliefs, or because they are members of American Indian tribes. The penalties will be fully phased in by 2016.
About 21 million nonelderly residents will be uninsured in 2016, according to projections by the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation. Most of those people will be exempt from the penalties.
Under the new law, the penalties will be phased in starting in 2014. By 2016, those who must get insurance but don’t will be fined $695 or 2.5 percent of their household income, whichever is greater.
After 2016, the penalties will be increased by annual cost-of-living adjustments. People will not be required to get coverage if the cheapest plan available costs more than 8 percent of their income.
The penalties will be collected by the Internal Revenue Service through tax returns. However, the IRS will not have the authority to bring criminal charges or file liens against those who don’t pay.
About 3 million of those required to pay fines in 2016 will have incomes below $59,000 for individuals and $120,000 for families of four, according to the CBO projections. The other 900,000 people who must pay the fine will have higher incomes.
The government will collect about $4 billion a year in fines from 2017 through 2019, according to the report
Fox News has posted a second article today that highlights comments on Infowars.com. “Hundreds of comments were posted in response to an incendiary story on infowars.com, the radical far-right Web site owned by radio host Alex Jones. The story, entitled, ‘The Cost Of Defying Obamacare: $2,250 a Month And IRS Goons Pointing Guns At Your Family,’ focused on the ‘increasing militarization of the IRS’ and its expansion of powers under the new health care law,” writes Jana Winter.
“The federal government is investigating dozens of death threats to IRS employees that have been posted online since the House passed the health care bill,” Winter explains. “The health care law has sparked protests on radical anti-tax and anti-government Web sites and within their private, password-protected e-mail lists and message boards. Some writers have labeled March 21 — the day the House passed the bill – ‘Bloody Sunday,’ and they see it as a call to violent action against IRS workers.”
In addition to creating dozens of new bureaucracies – the Health Choices Administration, the Health Benefits Advisory Committee, the Health Insurance Exchange, and others – the Obamacare bill further empowers the IRS.
“Under the Democrats’ health care proposals, the already powerful — and already feared — IRS would wield even more power and extend its reach even farther into the lives of ordinary Americans, and the presidentially-appointed head of the new health care bureaucracy would have access to confidential IRS information about millions of individual taxpayers,” notesByron York, writing for the Washington Examiner.
In response to this outrageous and unconstitutional power grab by the federal government, millions of people around the country have called and sent emails to Congress and the White House. Thousands of websites have posted articles critical of Obamacare and millions of people have posted comments in opposition. Millions have joined the Tea Party movement. Countless others have promised to not vote for Democrats or Republicans in the mid-term elections, a prospect that horrifies the establishment.
Instead of mentioning the fact Obamacare is vastly unpopular and the is IRS hated and feared by millions of Americans – and that an increasing number of them are no longer shy about expressing their outrage — Fox News would have you believe that anger is confined to a small number of “anti-government” websites, most notably Alex Jones’ Infowars.com. Reading Fox News, the casual reader would arrive at the conclusion that a large number of Infowars.com readers are locked and loaded and ready to attack IRS employees.
In other words, Fox News, owned by the neocon Rupert Murdoch, is disseminating exactly the sort of propaganda the establishment has ordered up to demonize the growing and increasingly vocal opposition. Fox News is a cherished asset of Operation Mockingbird.
Fox News’ mission is to buttress the false right-left paradigm and steer the opposition into the ranks of the Republican party. It has already successful sabotaged the Libertarian Tea Party movement. It must now demonize the remaining opposition.
“While these threats are being investigated, experts doubt there is much that law enforcement can do to predict if any of these commenters actually plan on taking action. The only thing certain is that the online community of anti-government extremists is growing, and it is increasingly being viewed by law enforcement as a threat,” writes Winter.
Fox News, CNN, and other corporate media outlets serving as government propaganda mills are attempting to turn attention on Alex Jones and make him a scapegoat for the isolated actions of a few people who have threatened government officials.
Fox’s own polling reveals a majority of Americans oppose Obama’s authoritarian health care. “The latest Fox News poll finds that 55 percent oppose the healthcare reforms being deliberated on Capitol Hill,” Newsmax reported on March 19. “The 55 percent opposing reform is up from 51 percent in January, and from 47 percent in July. Opposition peaked at 57 percent in December.”
In addition, the poll reported that 75 percent of voters overall believe that the federal government does not represent their views.