Tag Archives: Trump Administration

Abolish the Drug Czar’s Office!


NORML
04/14/2017

 

The Trump Administration is widely expected to pick Representative Tom Marino for Drug Czar.

Representative Marino is a longtime, rabid drug warrior who has a consistent record of voting against marijuana law reform legislation — a position that runs counter to that of the majority of voters and his own constituents. His appointment to this office highlights the fact that this administration remains committed to the failed 1980s ‘war on drug’ playbook.

The Trump administration promised to eliminate bureaucratic waste. It should start by eliminating the office of the Drug Czar. 

The White House Drug Czar is required, by statute, “to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance that is listed in Schedule I” and to “ensure that no Federal funds … shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance listed in Schedule I.” This narrow-minded, Flat Earth mentality refuses to acknowledge the reality that the majority of the country is now authorized to engage in the use of medical cannabis and it mandates that US drug policy be dictated by rhetoric and ideology rather than by science and evidence.

NORML opposes Marino’s appointment to Drug Czar and we further call for this anti-science position to be abolished entirely.

Click here to send a message to President Trump – End the charade of the Drug Czar by abolishing the position. 

The Drug Czar’s office is a remnant of a bygone era when US drug policy was framed as a ‘war’ fueled largely by rhetoric and ideology. In 2017 we can do better and we must. The majority of Americans view drug abuse as a public health issue, they favor regulating cannabis as opposed to criminalizing it, and they are demanding policy changes based on science and evidence.

Tell President Trump: There is no place for ‘Czars’ in today’s American government, particularly those like Marino who still cling to the outdated and failed drug war policies and misplaced ideologies of the past.

Thanks in advance for standing together with the thousands of NORML members throughout the country.

The NORML Team

P.S. Our work is supported by thousands of people throughout the country as we work to advance marijuana reform in all 50 states and at the federal level. Can you kick in $5, $10 or $20 a month to help us keep going?

 

 

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Sheriff Who Met DAPL Opponents With Brute Force Now Advising Other Law Enforcement


 

Nebraska officials are reportedly preparing for what they expect will be massive protests against the Keystone XL pipeline

by Lauren McCauley, staff writer

The Morton County Sheriff's Department deployed a tank and sprayed peaceful protesters with a water cannon amid sub-zero temperatures on November 20, 2016. (Photo: Dark Sevier/flickr/cc)

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, made infamous for leading his department in brutal confrontations with opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline, is reportedly advising other law enforcement on how to deal with protesters.

In an interview with the Omaha World-Herald published Tuesday, Kirchmeier predicted that the next flashpoint will come in Nebraska over the pending construction of the Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline.

Throughout the months-long standoff in North Dakota, the sheriff’s office was repeatedly criticized for acting as a security force for pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners, as well as for routinely employing an excessive use of force against demonstrators. Police in riot gear attacked the water protectors with rubber bullets, water cannons, teargas grenades, and other weapons.

In addition, military vehicles such as a BearCat and MRAPs were deployed, while protesters were monitored by helicopters and identification check-points.

Yet, Kirchmeier told the World-Herald “that several other states, including South Dakota, have asked him to relay what he learned from the Standing Rock protests, and said that eventually he expects to talk with those from Nebraska,” the newspaper reported.

Among the lessons learned, according to reporter Paul Hammel, is how the county and state both “declared emergencies so they could utilize emergency funds to buy riot gear and cover the costs of officers who came from other states, including Nebraska.”

Further, “Kirchmeier said some tactical lessons were learned in confronting protesters, but he declined to share them,” Hammel wrote.

Since Trump’s State Department issued a permit last month for the portion of the pipeline that would run from tar sands fields in Alberta, Canada to existing pipelines in Steele City, Nebraska, opponents have been ramping up legal challenges and plans for non-violence resistance.

And it seems that local law enforcement is also making preparations.

In Nebraska, Hammel reports:

Law enforcement and county officials interviewed say there have been some discussions about what might be coming, but they declined to say whether any protest-control training is underway. 

Taylor Gage, a spokesman for Gov. Pete Ricketts, said that commenting on such security preparations would “jeopardize” those plans.  The Nebraska State Patrol is well aware of what happened in North Dakota, patrol spokesman Mike Meyer wrote in an email, and regularly trains for “contingencies” such as protests and natural disasters. 

Meyer said that recent purchases by the patrol of the sort of nonlethal devices used in crowd control—such as impact sponges and rubber-ball blast and pepper spray grenades—were not out of the ordinary, and are part of the agency’s regular equipment purchases.

Activist Jane Kleeb, who founded the organization Bold Nebraska that helped lead the original movement against KXL under former President Barack Obama, told Hammel that she is hopeful the project will not come to fruition, either because of the pending lawsuits or because it still needs approval from the Nebraskan government.

Otherwise, she said, “I think you’ll see creative, nonviolent civil disobedience if it comes to that…We’re obviously going to do everything we can to stand with landowners and the Ponca Tribe to protect their land and their legacy.”

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Marijuana may be legal in California, but it could get you deported


Immigrant rights activists and attorneys are reminding immigrants of potential consequences of using marijuana at a time when President Donald Trump is ramping up deportation efforts.

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By Alejandra Molina | amolina@scng.com | The Press-Enterprise

PUBLISHED: April 14, 2017 at 7:07 pm | UPDATED: April 14, 2017 at 10:31 pm

It’s legal in California, but marijuana possession and use is still a federal offense that could cause serious problems for immigrants in the Golden State.

“It is still a federal offense,” said Inland-based attorney Russell Jauregui. “Federal law controls immigration and thus people will still face severe immigration consequences for marijuana conviction/use.”

Undocumented immigrants can be deported for marijuana consumption in certain circumstances and may risk not being admitted back into the United States if they leave.

Immigrant rights activists and attorneys are reminding immigrants of potential consequences at a time when President Donald Trump is ramping up deportation efforts. The White House has said that any immigrant living in the U.S. illegally who has been charged or convicted of any crime, or even suspected of committing a crime, is now an enforcement priority.

Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, declined to say how the agency deals with immigrants accused or convicted of marijuana crimes in states where it’s legal.

Instead, she reiterated the Department of Homeland Security’s focus on targeting all “removable aliens” who have committed crimes, beginning with those who have been convicted of a criminal offense.

While those who pose a threat to public safety will continue to be a focus, the department will not exempt classes or categories of unauthorized immigrants from potential enforcement, she said.

“All those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States,” Kice said.

That’s why immigrants need to be aware of consequences surrounding marijuana use, advocates said.

“It could happen that people think that now that it’s legalized, that it would be completely safe, but obviously in this era of increasing concern of criminalization, and the fact that the federal government has said it wants to crack down on marijuana on the federal level, we’re really just trying to help inform and be proactive with immigrants of these concerns,” said Angie Junck, a supervising attorney with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, a San Francisco-based national nonprofit agency.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in February said that federal officials would try to adopt “reasonable policies” for enforcement of federal anti-marijuana laws. Sessions has said he believes violence surrounds sales and use of the drug.

California is home to more than 10 million immigrants, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. Nearly half of all of the state’s immigrants are naturalized U.S. citizens and another 26 percent have some sort of legal status, including green cards and visas. It’s estimated that about a quarter of California’s immigrants are undocumented.

In a state where the immigrant population is so vast, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in January 2017 issued a flier that spells out what non-U.S. citizens should and should not do when it comes to marijuana.

It advises non-U.S. citizens not to use marijuana until they are citizens, and not to work in marijuana shops. On top of that, it cautions undocumented immigrants not to leave the house carrying marijuana, a medical marijuana card, paraphernalia, or other accessories such as marijuana T-shirts or stickers. Additionally, they should never have photos, text messages or anything else connecting them to marijuana on their phone or social media accounts.

Most importantly, it advises non-citizen immigrants to never admit to any immigration or border official that they have ever have used or possessed marijuana.

What it boils down to, Junck said, is that immigration law is federal and marijuana use remains a federal offense, as well as grounds for deportation.

Marijuana is still listed as an illegal drug in the Controlled Substance Act and the Immigration and Naturalization Act deems drug trafficking an “aggravated felony,” a type of crime that has been a deportation priority.

Lawful permanent residents can be deported for any drug offense, with the sole exception of a conviction for possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana.

And, undocumented immigrants with a drug conviction can face a lifetime bar from ever gaining legal status. The only exception is a single conviction for possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana, and by showing extreme hardship to certain family members such as a spouse or children.

However, certain provisions under immigration law don’t always require a conviction in order for a person to be considered for deportation.

“Immigrants need to know that they can still face some consequences if they admit marijuana use to an immigration official,” Junck said.

“The biggest concern is admission to an immigration official,” she said.

Immigration officials can stop and ask people whatever they want; it’s just a question of whether the person decides to respond, Junck said. For example, when coming in from customs at the airport, officials can refer someone to what Junck referred to as secondary inspection.

“They may ask questions and those questions can vary from, ‘What’s your immigration status?’ to ‘Have you committed crimes for which you’ve never been arrested?’” Junck said. “Or maybe there’s a basic question that can be like, ‘Have you ever used marijuana?’”

Immigrant rights activists say the implications of admitting marijuana use are not widely known.

“There is a stigma about marijuana use in Latino immigrant communities and we need to erase that stigma if we are going to talk honestly about the legal repercussions of its use for non-citizens,” said Luis Nolasco, an immigrant rights organizer in the Inland Empire. “This is particularly for the older generation of undocumented parents who may have youth that engages in marijuana use.”

For now, it’s mostly unclear how federal authorities are going to address this legal situation. And in states where marijuana is legal, it’s a topic of serious concern for immigration attorneys and their clients.

“Under the Obama administration, I think it was treated more like a wait-and- see where we’re just going to kind of let this evolve,” said David Kolko, an immigration attorney in Colorado, where marijuana is legal.

“Under the Trump administration, I think people need to be even more cautious because there’s been certainly an impression that enforcement is going to be dealt with more aggressively and if they choose to use this marijuana issue as one enforcement tool, I think many immigrants … could be very vulnerable in terms of being able to stay in this country or move forward on their immigration cases,” Kolko said.

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DoJ Task Force Moves to Review Federal Cannabis Policy


In a DoJ memo, AG Jeff Sessions called for a subcommittee on marijuana and an email shows the DEA inquiring about Colorado cases.

By Aaron G. Biros

In a memo sent throughout the Department of Justice on April 5th, attorney general Jeff Sessions outlines the establishment of the Department’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety. That task force, largely focused on violent crime, is supposed to find ways that federal prosecutors can more effectively reduce illegal immigration, violent crimes and gun violence.

The task force is made up of subcommittees, according to the memo, and one of them is focused on reviewing federal cannabis policy. “Task Force subcommittees will also undertake a review of existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing, and marijuana to ensure consistency with the Department’s overall strategy on reducing violent crime and with Administration goals and priorities,” the memo reads. “Another subcommittee will explore our use of asset forfeiture and make recommendations on any improvements needed to legal authorities, policies, and training to most effectively attack the financial infrastructure of criminal organizations.” Those existing policies that Sessions refers to in the memo could very well be the 2013 Cole Memorandum, an Obama administration decree that essentially set up a framework for states with legal cannabis laws to avoid federal enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act.

In the past, Sessions has said he thinks the Cole Memo is valid, but remains skeptical of medical cannabis. In the last several months, comments made by Sessions and White House press secretary Sean Spicer have sparked outrage and growing fears among stakeholders in the cannabis industry, including major business players and state lawmakers. As a general feeling of uncertainty surrounding federal cannabis policy grows, many are looking for a safe haven, which could mean looking to markets outside of the U.S., like Canada, for example.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Photo: Gage Skidmore, Flickr

Washington State’s former Attorney General Rob McKenna, Washington State’s former Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Moran, and Maryland’s former Chief Deputy Attorney General Kay Winfree recently went on the record identifying the BioTrack THC traceability system as fully compliant with the Cole Memo. “The key to meeting the requirements of the Cole Memorandum is ‘both the existence of a strong and effective state regulatory system, and an operation’s compliance with that system’,” says the former attorney general and chief deputy attorneys general in a press release. “As described above, Washington State has a robust, comprehensive regulatory scheme that controls the entire marijuana supply chain.

The email sent to Colorado prosecutor Michael Melito

The flagship component of this regulatory scheme is the WSLCB’s seed to sale inventory system, the BioTrackTHC Traceability System.” Those commendations from a former attorney general could provide some solace to business operating with the seed-to-sale traceability software.

Still though, worries in the industry are fueled by speculation and a general lack of clarity from the Trump Administration and the Department of Justice. In an email obtained by an open records request and first reported by the International Business Times, a DEA supervisor asked a Colorado prosecutor in the state attorney general’s office about a number of cannabis-related prosecutions. The DEA supervisor asked for the state docket numbers of a handful of cases, including one involving cannabis being shipped out of state, according to The Denver Post. “Some of our intel people are trying to track down info regarding some of DEA’s better marijuana investigations for the new administration,” reads the email. “Hopefully it will lead to some positive changes.” So far, only speculations have emerged pertaining to its significance or lack thereof and what this could possibly mean for the future of federal cannabis policy.

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Why did Trump really launch 59 Missiles into Syria and Why That Matters


https://scontent-atl3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/17796353_1672075156141946_3909664558754033182_n.jpg?oh=2a5188ed7335df6be3883691bb959ade&oe=5989C9DC

Bruce Cain·Friday, April 7, 2017

Please read and share this important essay. And if you are interested you are welcome to read through all of my essays at the following link:

The Complete Facebook Essays of Bruce Cain: Perennial Hippie https://www.facebook.com/bruce.cain.98/notes?lst=100000184321094%3A100000184321094%3A1491578357

So last night (04/06/2017) Corporate “Fake News” announces that Trump has launched 60 Tomahawk missiles into Syria, supposedly because Assad used nerve gas to kill 60-100 Syrian Children.

===== Retaliation: U.S. Launches 60 Tomahawk Missiles Against Syrian Airfield, Possible Source Of Chemical Weapons Attack https://townhall.com/tipsheet/mattvespa/2017/04/06/retaliation-u-s-launches-tomahawk-missiles-against-syrian-airfields-n2310119 =====

And this morning the Corporate “Fake News” doubled down on the big lie.

Let us not forget that we’ve seen this same tactic — killing children and blaming it on Assad — back in 2013:

===== U.S. ‘backed plan to launch chemical weapon attack on Syria and blame it on Assad’s regime’ http://web.archive.org/web/20130129213824/http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2270219/U-S-planned-launch-chemical-weapon-attack-Syria-blame-Assad.html =====

Next consider these reports that have been hidden by the Corporate “Fake News:”

===== Ron Paul: Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria Likely a False Flag “Zero chance” Assad behind attack, says former Congressman https://www.infowars.com/ron-paul-chemical-weapons-attack-in-syria-likely-a-false-flag/ =====

===== The great investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, in two previous articles in the London Review of Books («Whose Sarin?» and «The Red Line and the Rat Line») has reported that the Obama Administration falsely blamed the government of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad for the sarin gas attack that Obama was trying to use as an excuse to invade Syria; and Hersh pointed to a report from British intelligence saying that the sarin that was used didn’t come from Assad’s stockpiles.

Hersh also said that a secret agreement in 2012 was reached between the Obama Administration and the leaders of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, to set up a sarin gas attack and blame it on Assad so that the US could invade and overthrow Assad. «By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria».

Hillary Clinton Approved Delivering Libya’s Sarin Gas to Syrian Rebels: Seymour Hersh By Eric Zuesse Global Research, May 01, 2016 http://www.globalresearch.ca/hillary-clinton-approved-delivering-libyas-sarin-gas-to-syrian-rebels-seymour-hersh/5522647 =====

WE THE PEOPLE need to stop being treated like mushrooms: kept in the dark and fed a steady diet of bullshit. Like right now.

Let us review what we already know:

(1) There has been no investigation to confirm that Assad used chemical weapons and in the past it has turned out the ISIS or other Muslim nutbags were responsible for past attacks.

(2) Throughout Trumps campaign he stated that it was up to the Syrian people to decide if Assad should remain. This represent a complete reversal of his thinking.

(3) Assad was making great progress against ISIS and therefore had no reason to use chemical weapons.

(4) Given the presence of Russia this could easily escalate into a wider war: perhaps even WWIII.

(5) Should Assad be deposed it is almost certain that Islamic Terrorists will fill the vacuum.

Why has he reversed himself like this. And let us not forget that our incursion into Iraq (2003) came with a 6 Trillion dollar price tag. Do we really want to repeat the same mistake again in Syria when there are much better, cheaper ways to resolve this?

I am beginning to wonder if Trump is not being blackmailed by the Deep State. Perhaps this is proof that meaningful changes to the presidency will not occur until we have Viet Nam style protests against this insane move by our President.

I did make the binary choice to elect Trump as a “lesser of two evils.” And for a short while I even thought he could become a Philosopher King like George Washington. But then I woke up.

He has done little to nothing to stop the flow of largely Muslim Syrian Refugees from coming into the country since his inauguration. He could have cut off funding in lieu of instituting a travel ban. He did not. He could have put pressure on Saudi Arabia: the primary financier of the most weaponized form of Islam: Wahhabism as promoted by the Muslim Brotherhood. He did not.

Good for him in that he named the real enemy: Islamic Terrorism. But he has yet to do anything to back that up. I’m sensing another “bait and switch.”

First off let us review how we got involved in Syria in the first place. Please take a moment to read through this summary before continuing. It is very concise yet discusses the main milestones leading to this humanitarian disaster.

===== A brief history of the War in Syria and rise of ISIS http://www.cheriberens.net/the-syrian-airstrike-targeted-an-al-qaeda-weapons-warehouse-which-was-being-used-as-a-workshop-for-the-production-of-land-mines-stuffed-with-poisonous-substances-it-was-not-an-airstrike-on-civilians.html =====

Next consider that US policy, during the Obama administration, was to support ISIS. Why would they do that you ask? Good question.

===== The government watchdog group “Judicial Watch” published formerly classified documents obtained from the U.S. Department of Defense and the State Department. One such document written by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) dated August 12,2012 states that an “Islamic State” is desirable in Eastern Syria to implement the West’s policies. The document stated that for “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey, [who] support the [Syrian] opposition … there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist [Wahhabi] principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.

Intel Document: West will facilitate the rise of an Islamic State (ISIS) in order to isolate the Syrian Government http://www.cheriberens.net/2012-intel-document-west-will-facilitate-rise-of-islamic-state-in-order-to-isolate-the-syrian-government.html =====

Here is the actual document for those that might have a problem accepting this sick demonic reality:

===== http://www.judicialwatch.org/document-archive/pgs-287-293-291-jw-v-dod-and-state-14-812-2/ =====

Yes it is very difficult to believe our government would do such a thing. On the other hand I have always thought the greatest mistake of humanity has been to underestimate the evil of our rulers. And sadly we ignore this reality until it is far too late: until a war is declared or you find yourself whisked off to a death camp as the Jews were whisked off during WWII.

Now consider this poor guy, in Iran, that is facing death because he insulted Islam:

===== Sentenced to Death for “Insulting Islam” https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/10170/iran-insulting-islam =====

Now consider how I would handle this situation if I were president:

===== “There is no more important right than the freedom to speak and think freely. Galileo understood this truth when he tried to explain to the Vatican that the Earth went around the Sun. And while the right to free speech emerged from the Enlightenment it was not put into any national charter until the ratification of the “US Constitution.” For all of our flaws, the acknowledgement of inalienable rights is really what made us the envy of free men and women throughout this planet. For that alone I remain proud to call myself an American.

There is only one Abrahamic Religion (e.g., Christianity, Judaism, Islam) that has not yet acknowledged the questioning of ideas: and that would be Islam. Today we will begin the process of bringing all 43 OIC nations (e.g., Muslim Theocracies) through the Enlightenment and into the 21st Century. For far too long we have ignored the problem of Islamic Theocracies, Islamic coercion and the institutional violence they have perpetrated on both Muslims and Non-Muslims alike.

And this is how we are about to solve this problem with Islam.

Thankfully Mosques are as common to Muslim nations as Starbucks are to the United States. You seem to be able to see them popping up all over the place. And too often we are finding that these Mosques — even those in the US — are proselytizing a virulent form of Islamic Supremacy: the idea that Muslims are superior to Non-Muslims. This has no place in the 21st century: nor does it have a place among free people. As Joni Mitchel put it so eloquently: we are all from stardust.

For many hundreds of years Muslim theocracies — from the Shiites of Iran to the Sunni’s of Saudi Arabia — have been persecuting those that question Islam, are gay, are Christian, are users of entheogens or other “mind expanding” drugs. As recently as 2016 Saudi Arabia has beheaded Apostates and even Witches. That shit ends today.

Today I have issued an executive order to protect the liberties of free men and women throughout our planet. So from this day forward every violation of personal liberties, by the institutions of Muslim theocracies, will be punished by the utter destruction of one of their Mosques (in their country) and the closing of one Mosque in our country. We will give the Imams a 5 hour warning prior to destroying their Mosque. Our intent is not to take human lives.

It is my hope that this mere warning will lead to the destruction of all Muslim theocracies throughout our planet. To be clear it does not prevent you from remaining a Muslim. But it is intended to make the theocratic tenants of your religion as irrelevant as a dead ghost on a bright sunny day. And should you not heed this warning we will simply determine additional targets after all of your mosques are turned to dust. Please heed this warning so that no Mosques need be destroyed. All humans have a right to think freely and to be free from the coercion of both religious and secular ideologies. I am issuing this executive order to make clear to the world that we have not forgotten our role in protecting personal liberties, both here and abroad.

In addition to this I will be establishing a committee to determine how we can move toward a sustainable future by encouraging a reduction in population growth as to reduce the very reason that nations go to war in the first place: the competition for energy and other resources. We are freethinking humans that remain at the top of the food chain. We do not need to act like mindless bacteria in a petri dish: mindlessly procreating till be die in our own toxic waste. =====

So that is how I would put Islam in its place. But that is only part of the problem. Perhaps the bigger part of the problem is that the Global Elite has been exploiting Islam to create its own from of Caliphate: what they like to call the “New World Order.” The links that I have already provided should have made that clear. But in 2015 it finally occurred to me why these Global Elites (Banks, Corporations, Educational Institutions, Soros, Non Government Organizations etc.) have been so cozy to Islam over the past few decades. They want to use Islam as a means to establish their own Global order before the advent of cheap energy takes away most of their power.

If you would read my essay I will explain why the emergence of cheap energy is both the crux of the problem and the crux of the solution. Here is a brief quote from the essay, in hopes you will read the entire essay:

===== “Today we are at a cross roads. The Global Elite (banks and corporations) are “shitting a brick” because the access to cheap energy is upon us. Germany, which has less sunlight than most US states, has now used solar energy to replace 30% of their energy needs. Tesla has just recently developed a “home battery” that will save the access energy without dependence on local Energy Utilities. They are “shitting a brick” because the control of energy has been the primary means by which the global banks/corporations can control us.”

The Muslim Invasion of Europe and the End of the World https://www.facebook.com/notes/bruce-cain/the-muslim-invasion-of-the-useurope-and-the-end-of-the-world/1217516511607668 =====

CONTINUE READING…

SOURCE LINK

Opinion: Trump’s decisions to expedite the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines could actually slow them down


Published: Mar 20, 2017 5:28 a.m. ET

Cutting regulatory or procedural corners on the oil pipelines increases the risk of successful court challenges and trade disputes

President Donald J. Trump’s new actions intended to expedite approval of energy and infrastructure projects were hailed by industry groups and decried by environmentalists. If those actions are implemented in ways that cut regulatory or procedural corners, they likely will slow down infrastructure development by increasing the risk of successful court challenges and trade disputes.

If the agencies reviewing Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines don’t take the time to provide justifications for their recent decisions on those projects—influenced by Trump—courts may invalidate pipeline approvals. Implementing explicit local-content requirements for steel in pipelines could embroil the United States in trade disputes. Further, the administration’s memorandum to expedite federal infrastructure review and permitting creates uncertainty about the application of a more carefully thought out process Congress established in 2015.

Dakota Access Pipeline

Trump signed a memorandum designed to reverse the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to withhold the last permission the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) needed to complete construction until it undertook additional review of an alternate route and conducted additional tribal and public engagement by preparing an environmental impact statement, or EIS.

The Corps of Engineers has now rescinded the environmental review and granted the easement to those constructing the pipeline, citing Trump’s directive as its basis for action. The reviewing court has denied a request for a preliminary injunction from the Standing Rock Tribe. While the court didn’t rule on the tribe’s motion for partial summary judgment, there is still some risk the court could halt or delay operation of the pipeline and order the army to proceed with more environmental review.

The main issue with the Corps of Engineers’ decision is that while an agency can change its mind about a policy decision, that agency must provide a reasoned justification for that change, particularly when it is changing its determinations about the underlying facts and circumstances of an issue. The Corps of Engineers should have explained why there was a basis to change its mind about producing an EIS before the comment period on scoping for the EIS had finished. While its analysis in support of reversing course went over the procedural history of the environmental review, it provided no explanation for changing its decision to conduct an EIS, however, other than referring to the president’s memorandum. Court cases indicate that a change in administration itself isn’t a reasoned justification for changing an agency’s decision about the underlying facts and circumstances of that decision.

If the court finds the Corps of Engineers’ change in decision to be arbitrary and capricious, it could order an EIS to be completed and may order pipeline operations be halted pending the completion of that EIS. In the rush to move forward immediately after the inauguration, the administration may have slowed down DAPL’s progress.

Keystone XL

In addition to his executive action on DAPL, Trump signed a memorandum inviting TransCanada to resubmit its application for the Keystone XL project and directed agencies to make a permitting decision within 60 days. TransCanada resubmitted its application on Jan. 26 and submitted a new application for the route in Nebraska on Feb. 16.

This accelerated timeline significantly increases the risk that a court could block any decision to grant Keystone XL a permit.

First, despite the 60-day time limit in the memo, the U.S. Department of State needs to follow the same considerations the Army Corps of Engineers must follow in DAPL to ensure that any change in its decision is supported in the record or it will face legal challenge that its actions are arbitrary and capricious. The State Department would have an additional legal defense in court that is not available to the Corps of Engineers in DAPL because two out of three district courts that have considered previous presidential permits have found the permits unreviewable. There is no guarantee that subsequent courts will follow those precedents, however, and if the court reviewing this action doesn’t, it will judge State Department actions as arbitrary and capricious.

Second, one of the key decisions that the State Department will need to make in that process is whether there is a change in circumstances that would alter the environmental impacts of Keystone XL described in the supplemental environmental impact statement, or SEIS. Litigants could assert, at minimum, that the collapse in oil prices since the SEIS was concluded may change the SEIS conclusion that Keystone XL was unlikely to affect production and thereby greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the oil sands.

Third, the State Department has previously stated that it couldn’t adequately evaluate the impacts of Keystone XL without a final approved route in Nebraska. TransCanada won’t complete the process in Nebraska for at least several months, well after the 60-day deadline for the department to make a decision. The department will need to justify why it has changed its consideration of the facts and can now adequately evaluate the environmental impacts of the pipeline without a settled route in Nebraska.

Fourth, the president’s suggestion that he might impose additional conditions could make the project uneconomic. While the administration has stated it will not require the pipeline to be constructed from U.S. steel, in the current low-oil-price environment even more modest additional conditions could challenge the project’s economics. TransCanada has agreed to temporarily suspend its $15 billion North American Free Trade Agreement claim against the United States, but it has not yet dropped the claim. If it does decide to pursue the Nafta claim instead of complying with uneconomic additional conditions, TransCanada could cite the imposition of conditions by the current administration to buttress its claims that the United States has treated the company unfairly and arbitrarily.

The domestic content plan

Trump also signed a memo directing Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to develop a plan under which pipelines in the United States are required to use materials and equipment produced domestically. As with the other memorandums, this one leaves the hard work to the agency in question, and Ross will face significant challenges in crafting a plan that avoids creating additional legal uncertainty in a World Trade Organization challenge or harming U.S. industry.

WTO agreements generally prohibit requirements giving preference to domestically sourced goods over imported goods. The United States has long been a champion opposing local-content requirements, or LCRs, having won a landmark pre-WTO proceeding that overturned many Canadian local-content requirements in its Foreign Investment Review Act, and recently won a challenge against India’s LCRs in its solar industry.

Any plan that supports using U.S. steel and equipment in pipelines will need to be carefully designed to avoid being invalidated at the WTO. In addition, LCRs generally harm the economy of the country implementing them by increasing costs in the economy as a whole and harming international competitiveness.

Expediting federal permit reviews

The most unusual of Trump’s memorandums is the one expediting reviews of infrastructure permits. The memorandum creates a process for expediting permitting reviews headed by the chair of the Council of Environmental Equality (CEQ). The memo, however, doesn’t describe how it relates to existing measures to streamline infrastructure review processes, most importantly the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The bipartisan FAST Act provides authority to an interagency Federal Infrastructure Improvement Steering Council, controlled jointly by the Office of Management and Budget and CEQ, devoted to streamlining federal permitting reviews.

In contrast to Trump’s memo, the FAST Act takes a comprehensive approach to addressing permitting delays. OMB’s inclusion in the process is important because its mandate and expertise is in overall management of the executive branch, including the budget. By contrast, CEQ’s expertise and mandate is primarily devoted to the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Expediting federal permitting isn’t simply a matter of speeding up the NEPA examination, but also often involves efficiently mediating interagency disputes about limited resources and overlapping statutory authorities, which is the purview of OMB.

Better pathways

Federal permitting of pipelines and energy infrastructure should be improved, and improving pipeline safety by replacement of aging pipelines should be encouraged.

For cross-border pipelines, the executive order governing the State Department’s process for moving forward with the Keystone XL pipeline could be amended:

• to clarify cross-border pipelines are subject to FAST Act procedures;

• to allow existing permits to be amended for a change in control of the owner (or a change in the name of the line) without requiring a new permit; and

• to allow pipeline improvements (such as replacement, upgrade, or improvement with collateral equipment) to require notice but not issuance of a new permit. The administration may also consider whether the environmental review of cross-border pipelines should be led by a different agency with greater capacity.

However, for DAPL, the Army Corps of Engineers should still be prepared to proceed with additional environmental review by developing a plan that can be immediately implemented if the court rules against it on the still-pending motion for partial summary judgment.

For Keystone XL, the State Department should do a rapid but thorough review of SEIS to consider and evaluate if changed circumstances impact the NEPA assessment. The administration should consider changing the deadline for decision on the Presidential Permit to 30 or 60 days after Nebraska finishes its process.

On domestic content, the Commerce Department should evaluate alternatives to supporting U.S. steel production other than implementing an explicit local content requirement that is inconsistent with WTO obligations.

Finally, on overall expediting of federal permitting, the administration should clarify that it is not creating a new, competing system for expediting infrastructure reviews and clarify how the recent order can be integrated with the existing FAST Act requirements.

The administration can best expedite approval of pipelines and other energy infrastructure without sacrificing environmental, safety, or economic concerns by ensuring that agencies have sufficient resources to meet expedited timelines while still complying with existing laws.

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Drug Testing of People Who File for Unemployment


Press Release | 03/14/2017

U.S. Senate Expected to Take Up Measure Today Aimed at Expanding Drug Testing of People Who File for Unemployment Assistance

50 Civil Rights, Faith, and Criminal Justice Organizations Send Letter to Congress Opposing Legislation

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has scheduled floor debate and a likely vote on a measure today (H.J. Res 42) that would roll back an Obama Administration regulation limiting the ability of states to drug test people who file for unemployment insurance. Following a Senate vote, the measure would next go to President Trump who has said he will sign it.

Today’s expected vote in the Senate is the latest in a string of efforts by Republican leadership to use congressional authority granted under a federal law known as the Congressional Review Act to repeal recently finalized federal regulations.  Before the Department of Labor’s rule can be repealed, however, the Senate must vote to do the same.  The White House has stated in a Statement of Administration Policy that it supports H.J. Res 42 and the U.S. House approved H.J. Res 42 on a nearly party-line vote last month. Advocates see the repeal of the Department of Labor rule as a first step by some Republicans in Congress at undoing federal restrictions on states conditioning receipt of unemployment and other forms of public assistance on a drug test.

“They say it’s about helping states save money, but this would actually set up states to waste tremendous amounts of money,” said Grant Smith, deputy director of national affairs with the Drug Policy Alliance. “Congress should be helping people get to work, not wasting taxpayer dollars to punish people who are trying to get back to work.”

50 concerned civil rights, faith, and criminal justice organizations have signed and sent a letter to Congress opposing this drug testing legislation.

In 2012, Congress passed a law allowing states to require drug testing as a condition of receiving unemployment insurance in cases where a person was let go from their last job because of unlawful drug use or cases where a person applying for unemployment insurance who is only available for suitable work in an occupation that regularly conducts drug testing. The 2012 federal law also instructed the Department of Labor (DOL) to define through regulation what those occupations that regularly drug testing are, and last year, DOL published a final rule limiting those occupations primarily to those with a public safety concern (aviation and railroad workers, jobs that require carrying a firearm etc.) This 2012 law was the result of a bipartisan compromise reached between Republicans managing the underlying legislation who wanted to completely lift this prohibition and Democrats who wanted to maintain the prohibition.  Prior to 2012, federal law had been interpreted to prohibit states from imposing drug testing requirements on unemployment insurance applicants.

“For years, a small handful of Republicans in Congress have pushed this deceptive agenda and have got Republican leadership to buy in,” added Smith. “It’s shameful to see Republicans who have provided so much leadership recently on the opioid crisis now pushing drug testing schemes that provide no treatment and only serve to stigmatize and punish people who have lost their jobs.”

Contact:

Tony Newman, 646-335-5384
Grant Smith, 202-669-6573

SOURCE LINK

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-joint-resolution/42

As soon as this afternoon, the U.S. Senate could vote on a bill that would escalate the drug war by expanding the ability of states to drug test people who file for unemployment insurance. If it passes, it will go to President Trump to be signed into law.

This is our last chance to block it before the vote. Urge your Senators to oppose this harmful legislation.

Proposed Plan to Improve the Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Accountability of Federal Agencies


The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

March 13, 2017

Presidential Executive Order on a Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch

EXECUTIVE ORDER

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN FOR REORGANIZING THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Purpose.  This order is intended to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of the executive branch by directing the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (Director) to propose a plan to reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies (as defined in section 551(1) of title 5, United States Code), components of agencies, and agency programs.

Sec. 2.  Proposed Plan to Improve the Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Accountability of Federal Agencies, Including, as Appropriate, to Eliminate or Reorganize Unnecessary or Redundant Federal Agencies.  (a)  Within 180 days of the date of this order, the head of each agency shall submit to the Director a proposed plan to reorganize the agency, if appropriate, in order to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of that agency. 

(b)  The Director shall publish a notice in the Federal Register inviting the public to suggest improvements in the organization and functioning of the executive branch and shall consider the suggestions when formulating the proposed plan described in subsection (c) of this section.

(c)  Within 180 days after the closing date for the submission of suggestions pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, the Director shall submit to the President a proposed plan to reorganize the executive branch in order to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of agencies.  The proposed plan shall include, as appropriate, recommendations to eliminate unnecessary agencies, components of agencies, and agency programs, and to merge functions.  The proposed plan shall include recommendations for any legislation or administrative measures necessary to achieve the proposed reorganization.

(d)  In developing the proposed plan described in subsection (c) of this section, the Director shall consider, in addition to any other relevant factors:

(i)    whether some or all of the functions of an agency, a component, or a program are appropriate for the Federal Government or would be better left to State or local governments or to the private sector through free enterprise;

(ii)   whether some or all of the functions of an agency, a component, or a program are redundant, including with those of another agency, component, or program; 

(iii)  whether certain administrative capabilities necessary for operating an agency, a component, or a program are redundant with those of another agency, component, or program; 

(iv)   whether the costs of continuing to operate an agency, a component, or a program are justified by the public benefits it provides; and

(v)    the costs of shutting down or merging agencies, components, or programs, including the costs of addressing the equities of affected agency staff.

(e) In developing the proposed plan described in subsection (c) of this section, the Director shall consult with the head of each agency and, consistent with applicable law, with persons or entities outside the Federal Government with relevant expertise in organizational structure and management.  

Sec. 3.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

DONALD J. TRUMP

THE WHITE HOUSE,
    March 13, 2017.

SOURCE LINK

I can only believe you are obviously ill informed in several areas and by now you are figuring out that the rabbit hole or snake pit is much deeper and darker than even you had believed…


 
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Mary Thomas-Spears

2 hrs ·

Dear #PresidentTrump

I can only believe you are obviously ill informed in several areas and by now you are figuring out that the rabbit hole or snake pit is much deeper and darker than even you had believed… When it comes to the pure evil that seems to have a hold on nearly everyone and everything.

As it appears to be swallowing you too! At this point!

Which bothers me because I thought you had more heart and wisdom than your displaying and maybe it is some of your actions…

Or the Lack of Action or thought before action in some areas, or looking at all the perspectives in others… If not the same areas… When it comes to your keeping promises.

For those of us who had some faith that you would… Because of some previous good experience we had with you…

I believe you are missing or overlooking some important issues and/or perspectives in your so-called solutions that you might should take the time to reconsider or consider.

Like you can’t get rid of Cartels in Government by replacing it with a new one that’s hand picked!!!!

So disappointed that I thought you meant to do your best to keep that promise…

I knew you might be ignorant in some ares, yet, I believed you would take some time to educate yourself on all the perspectives too!

Seems I was wrong and like I have had to admit that fact one too many times.

Like when I had to admit that Legalize was in fact Legal Lies!

Seems that be what you be telling!!!

 

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FMaryL.Thomas.Spears%2Fposts%2F1735883230057900&width=500&show_text=true&appId=99219627966&height=246

 

If you know how to Repeal Obama Care (which I supported as it is currently unconstitutional as it is mandated) and you really want to fix some things in big pharma and “return power to the people” than Please protect and return our earth, air, water, gardens, stop breaking Native Treaties and Repeal Marijuana Prohibition instead of telling even more Legal Lies!!! As it = Marijuana aka Cannabis Sativa L aka Hemp is a food first!!!!!!!!!!!!! Prohibition leads to Malnutrition which leads to Disease, War and Genocide!!!

Just because we were established as a Penal = Prison Colony of the Crown = Great Britain.

As it was incorporated through D.C. the “District of” and/or the “Contract of Incorporation or Corporate Merger” aka “The U.S. Constitution”

Doesn’t mean our children have to go out like that or that they should be consumed by those who conned, framed and laid in wait for them to do so.

And then there is KARMA and/or physics like perpetual motion you know ?

Please See www.constitutionalcannabis.com Thank You!!!!!!!

CONTINUE…

“arriving high in the saddle on Tonto, an Irish sport horse…”


 

Image result for Ryan Zinke

On his first day on the job, the new Interior Department secretary, Ryan Zinke, proved he knows how to make an entrance: arriving high in the saddle on Tonto, an Irish sport horse. Mounted police escorted him a few blocks through Washington.

Mr. Zinke, a fifth-generation Montanan who now oversees the country’s 500 million acres of public land, including 59 national parks, showed up to work to a grand reception.

Officers from various agencies under the Interior Department lined the steps to the administration building. A drummer from his home state’s Northern Cheyenne tribe performed. The department is the liaison with federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native nations.

 

Mr. Zinke, 55, served nearly two dozen years with the Navy SEALs before entering politics in 2008 as a Republican. After two terms in the Montana legislature, he was elected in 2014 as the state’s at-large representative in the House, before his nomination to the cabinet by President Trump. He was confirmed on Wednesday by the Senate with a vote of 68-31.

His horseback journey on Thursday started around 9 a.m., when Mr. Zinke, wearing a cowboy hat and jeans, mounted Tonto, a bay roan. Tonto, a gelding, stands an inch more than 17 hands, or about 5-foot-9, and belongs to the United States Park police. He is kept in stables at the National Mall.

Mr. Zinke rode several blocks to the entrance of the Interior Department on C Street NW, dismounted and then introduced himself to the staff inside, a department spokeswoman said. The department has 70,000 employees at 2,400 locations.

“It was quite a neat reception,” said Greg Julian, a spokesman at the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

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