Four Points From Scalia’s Scathing Dissent in Supreme Court Ruling to Allow Searches Based on Anonymous TipsPosted April 23, 2014 at 9:35 am by Liz Klimas
“A freedom-destroying cocktail.”
That’s how Justice Antonin Scalia characterized Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling that law enforcement officers may pull over and search drivers based solely on an anonymous tip.
The justices ruled 5-4 Tuesday to uphold a traffic stop in northern California in which officers subsequently found marijuana in the vehicle. The officers themselves did not see any evidence of the tipped reckless driving, which was interpreted as drunkenness, even after following the truck for several minutes.
Justice Clarence Thomas said the tip phoned in to 911 that a Ford pickup truck had run the caller off the road was sufficiently reliable to allow for the traffic stop without violating the driver’s constitutional rights.
But Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the dissent in Prado Navarette v. California, had strong words about the decision’s implications for the future.
Here are some of Scalia’s points, in which he was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor (emphasis added):
- Law enforcement agencies follow closely our judgments on matters such as this, and they will identify at once our new rule: So long as the caller identifies where the car is, anonymous claims of a single instance of possibly careless or reckless driving, called in to 911, will support a traffic stop. This is not my concept, and I am sure would not be the Framers’, of a people secure from unreasonable searches and seizures.
- Anonymity is especially suspicious with respect to the call that is the subject of the present case. When does a victim complain to the police about an arguably criminal act (running the victim off the road) without giving his identity, so that he can accuse and testify when the culprit is caught?
- The Court’s opinion serves up a freedom-destroying cocktail consisting of two parts patent falsity: (1) that anonymous 911 reports of traffic violations are reliable so long as they correctly identify a car and its location, and (2) that a single instance of careless or reckless driving necessarily supports a reasonable suspicion of drunkenness. All the malevolent 911 caller need do is assert a traffic violation, and the targeted car will be stopped, forcibly if necessary, by the police. If the driver turns out not to be drunk (which will almost always be the case), the caller need fear no consequences, even if 911 knows his identity. After all, he never alleged drunkenness, but merely called in a traffic violation—and on that point his word is as good as his victim’s.
- Drunken driving is a serious matter, but so is the loss of our freedom to come and go as we please without police interference. To prevent and detect murder we do not allow searches without probable cause or targeted Terry stops without reasonable suspicion. We should not do so for drunken driving either. After today’s opinion all of us on the road, and not just drug dealers, are at risk of having our freedom of movement curtailed on suspicion of drunkenness, based upon a phone tip, true or false, of a single instance of careless driving.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Front page image via Shutterstock
‘The U.S. Military Is a Socialist Paradise’Posted April 23, 2014 at 9:26 am by Jonathon M. Seidl
“The U.S. military is a socialist paradise.”
So goes the headline to a provocative piece on the Daily Beast by author Jacob Siegel. The premise? The armed forces are really a petri dish where socialism has been tried and worked.
1. “Every day before dawn, brave men and women of different races and backgrounds rise as one, united by a common cause. They march together in formation, kept in step by their voices joined in song. These workers leave their communal housing arrangements and go toil together “in the field.” While they are out doing their day’s labor, their young are cared for in subsidized childcare programs. If they hurt themselves on the job, they can count on universal health care. Right under your nose, on the fenced-in bases you drive past on your way to work or see on the TV news, a successful experiment in collectivization has been going on for years.”
2. “The U.S. military is a socialist paradise. Imagine a testing ground where every signature liberal program of the past century has been applied, from racial integration to single-payer health care—then add personal honor, strict hierarchy, and more guns. Like all socialist paradises, the military has been responsible for its share of bloodshed, but it has developed one of the only working models of collective living and social welfare that this country has ever known.”
3. “The military is an enormous jobs program. There are more than 2 million active duty and reserve members of the armed forces spread out between bases in more than 150 countries.”
4. “Millions of people on military bases live in communal arrangements. They participate in centrally run programs that govern the most basic and fundamental aspects of their lives, from their housing and children’s educations to where and how they shop for food.”
5. “The pay difference, and thus the lifestyle difference, between a junior troop and a senior general is a small fraction of the disparity that separates the salary of an average worker from that of a top CEO in the private sector.”
Siegel uses other examples, including a culture where the person from the poorest background can rise to success.
Read the entire thing over at the Daily Beast.
NFL Player’s Brain Injury Ends His Career — But He Plans to Turn the Tragedy Into Something Incredibly PositivePosted April 23, 2014 at 8:59 am by Billy Hallowell
After years of practice and endurance, former Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Russell Allen’s professional football dreams are tragically coming to an end.
Allen, 27, has officially announced his retirement following an on-field stroke in December, explaining that a brain injury will permanently prevent him from playing professional football.
But despite the unfortunate circumstances that led Allen, a devout Christian, to prematurely exit the field, he says he’s keeping his spirits high and relying on God to guide him.
“My family [and] I want to thank everyone for the love [and] support,” Allen tweeted Tuesday. “It’s been a tough time but we serve a God who is bigger than our struggles.”
Problems for Allen began Dec. 15, 2013, when he had a routine, on-field clash with another player during a game between the Jaguars and the Buffalo Bills.
But what he thought was a minor football injury ended up leaving a small, dime-size portion of his cerebellum “dead,” according to Sports Illustrated’s MMQB.
“It was strange because it was so routine. We hit, I got off the block, no big deal,” Allen told the outlet. “I felt something flash — like they say when you get your bell rung. I didn’t lose consciousness. I walked back to the huddle and finished the drive.”
Later in the game, though, he started having double vision and a headache persisted into the next day. Allen then reached out to the team and let physicians know about the minor clash, having little idea just how serious the injury was — one that would end his five-season NFL career.
After an MRI and a subsequent visit to the emergency room, Allen learned of his brain damage and that he had suffered a stroke on the field.
Flash forward a few months: The Jaguars recently announced that Allen failed his physical and he was cut from the team.
The former player has been open about his experience in recent days, sharing how the injury that initially seemed so simple has now derailed his football career.
Despite the tragic news, Allen is keeping positive. He’s hoping to help other players recognize and speak out about their injuries before they become too serious. Additionally, he wants to coach high school football in the San Diego area.
In his interview with MMQB, Allen also spoke about meeting Robert and Stefanie Herbert, a pastor and his wife, who had a major impact on Allen and his wife Ali.
Robert Herbert married the couple in 2010 and, after considering the impact the pastor and his wife has had on his life, the former Jaguars player realized that he, too, can have a positive effect on others, mainly young people.
“God changed our life through those people. It started to sink in for me what it was all about. I feel like high school is such an important time for kids to learn what football is about,” Allen told MMQB. “You play the game because you love it, and you want to honor it. You treat people with respect and do things the right way, and you keep it in perspective, keeping family and faith up front.”
He added, “Those were lessons I learned down the road. I didn’t always have that perspective. I learned my lesson.”
Despite concluding his NFL career, Allen seems determined to turn something negative into an opportunity to positively impact others’ lives.
(H/T: Christian Today)
Search and Rescue Group Sues FAA Over This ‘Inconceivable’ RestrictionPosted April 23, 2014 at 8:35 am by Elizabeth Kreft
When a person goes missing in a perilous place — say, on the side of a mountain or deep in the woods — search teams may need help getting the best view of the territory, or may hesitate to put volunteers in danger among the rough terrain.
But a volunteer search and rescue group came up with a solution.
Why not use radio controlled model aircraft? Experts say using one airborne asset can replace at least one hundred searchers on foot, saving precious time and resources when a loved one is lost.
Ingenious, right? Unfortunately, the Federal Aviation Administration disagrees.
The FAA sent an “inconceivable” cease and desist order to Texas Equusearch — a search and recovery operation — directing the group to stop all use of radio-controlled model aircraft in life-saving rescue efforts.
“It is incomprehensible that the FAA would for decades raise no issue with respect to recreational operation of these devices but prohibit and deem ‘illegal’ the exact same use for the purpose of saving the lives of missing children,” a letter from Texas Equeesearch’s legal counsel reads. The firm Kramer Levin sent the scathing letter to the FAA in March, insisting on a 30-day window for the government agency to reverse or rescind the “unlawful directive … because of the urgent nature of the humanitarian work performed.”
When the FAA didn’t send a single response, the group filed suit.
“Since its founding, Texas EquuSearch has coordinated volunteer searchers in over 1,400 searches in 42 states and eight foreign countries, and has found over 300 missing people alive. In other less fortunate cases, the organization’s efforts have recovered remains, helping families to end the agony of not knowing their loved one’s fate, permitting closure and enabling the human dignity of a funeral.”
The suit claims a model aircraft equipped with a camera is “perhaps the single most powerful search-and-rescue tool” in the crucial early hours while searching for a missing person.
The Texas group is a non-profit organization and — according to Brendan Schulman, Special Council at Kremer Levin – ”coordinates with local law enforcement and other
emergency responders every time their model aircraft is used.” In many instances local rescuers have no access to manned aircraft or helicopters and the model aircraft represents the only option for obtaining an aerial view of locations that need to be searched, he said.
The FAA has stated several times that their primary concern is safety. Texas Equusearch counters with its mission statement: “We are committed to providing experienced, organized and ethical volunteer search efforts for missing persons, utilizing the most suitable and up to date technologies and methodologies.”
So where is the rub? It seems there is plenty of room for solutions rather than court summons.
According to Schulman, the government agency has yet to respond to the suit. The FAA did, however, respond to TheBlaze when asked for comment:
“The FAA is reviewing the appeal. The agency approves emergency Certificates of Authorization for natural disaster relief, search and rescue operations and other urgent circumstances, sometimes in a matter of hours. We are not aware that any government entity with an existing COA has applied for an emergency naming Texas EquuSearch as its contractor.”
Texas Equusearch also famously spent $120,000 in volunteer time and resources to search for Caylee Anthony, who was reported missing for several months before her skeletal remains were found in the woods near her mother, Casey Anthony’s home, in Orlando, Florida.
What do you think? If your child was lost, would you want to be able to use remote controlled aircraft to find them?
Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter.
Lawyers Deliver First Amendment Lesson After Parents Accuse Teacher of Banning Child’s BiblePosted April 23, 2014 at 8:05 am by Billy Hallowell
The parents of a second-grade student in Texas are accusing a teacher of banning their child from reading the Bible during independent reading time.
The student in question was purportedly trying to read the holy book during “read to myself time” at Hamilton Elementary School in Cypress, Texas, when the educator allegedly said the book was inappropriate.
The parents, who wish to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, claim that the teacher asked the child not to bring the Bible back to school.
Liberty Institute, a conservative legal group, is now representing the family, calling the teacher’s actions unconstitutional.
“We expect [Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District] officials to resolve this unfortunate incident quickly and amicably by informing us that they have addressed this matter with District employees, and by assuring us that this will not happen again,” Michael Berry, an Liberty Institute attorney, said in a statement.
Berry added that the Supreme Court has ruled in the past that children do not need to shed their First Amendment rights once they enter schools; he affirmed his belief that the child in question had every right to read the Bible during the independent reading time.
The Liberty Institute also penned a letter to the Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District in support of the family, claiming that the teacher’s alleged censorship violated the U.S. Constitution as well as state and federal laws.
“The First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits public schools from treating religious activities and materials less favorably than non-religious materials, as long as such materials do not create a substantial disruption to discipline or the academic environment,” the letter reads in part.
It continues, “If students at Hamilton Elementary are permitted to read non-religious materials of their choice, then the Bible must also be permitted.”
The exact nature and parameters surrounding “read to myself time” are not known, though Liberty Institute claims that the Bible fits available descriptions of the texts allowed during independent reading time.
The Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District said in a statement provided to TheBlaze that officials were made aware of the incident through local media and that an “initial investigation” has not been able to substantiate the alleged infraction.
That said, officials said they are still investigating.
“As a school district, our policies clearly support the First Amendment rights of all students,” the statement read.
It added, “During a student’s independent reading time, students are required to read a book that is ‘Just Right.’ A ‘Just Right’ book is when the student can read most of the words, comprehend the text and that the book is appropriate for the type of text or genre that is being taught.”
If the Bible meets these specifications for students, then it would be considered acceptable, the district noted, adding, “We take any allegation involving the civil liberties of our students seriously and will continue to address all concerns reported.”
Front page image via Shutterstock.com
More Jewish Sites Vandalized in Ukraine, as Biden Condemns Anti-Semitic AttacksPosted April 23, 2014 at 7:42 am by Sharona Schwartz
Just days after a synagogue was fire bombed, new reports of anti-Jewish violence have emerged in Ukraine, including the vandalizing of a Holocaust memorial and a prominent Jewish figure’s tomb.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), quoting the Sevastopolskaya Gazeta, reported Tuesday that the Holocaust Memorial in Sevastopol in the Crimean Peninsula was spray painted in red with a hammer and sickle and the letters USSR.
The memorial was built in 2003 to commemorate the 1942 murder at the site of 4,200 Jews by the Nazis. JTA noted that the memorial has been in the past vandalized by neo-Nazis.
Israel National News reported that vandals in Dnepropetrovsk spray painted swastikas on the tomb of Dov Ber Schneerson, the brother of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late leader of the Lubavicher Jewish movement. Rabbi Moshe Weber of the Lubavicher movement, also known as Chabad, said that the graffiti looked recent.
Vice President Joe Biden said on Tuesday during a visit to the former Soviet republic that there is “no place” for anti-Semitism in Ukraine.
“Just as corruption can have no place in the new Ukraine, neither can anti-Semitism or bigotry,” Biden said according to the Associated Press. “Let me say that again, neither can anti-Semitism or bigotry. No place. None. Zero. The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms all threats and attacks against Ukrainian Jewish communities as well as Roma and others, as you do, as well, I know, Mr. Prime Minister.”
During the press conference, Biden stood beside acting Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk who did not directly address the anti-Semitic attacks in his remarks.
Other acts of anti-Jewish violence since the revolution began included a stabbing and the burning of two synagogues.
Two Molotov cocktails were thrown at the main synagogue in the southern Ukrainian city of Nikolayev on Friday night, which was both the Jewish Sabbath and during the weeklong festival of Passover. The attack was reported to have occurred at 2 a.m. when the house of worship was empty.
Last week, members of the Jewish community in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine reported that three masked men carrying Russian flags had handed out leaflets outside their synagogue telling Jews they had to register and declare their property to the separatist government. The pro-Russian separatist leader said he was not behind the document which was denounced by the Obama administration.
Yatsenyuk vowed over the weekend to find the “bastards” behind the leaflets and bring them to justice.
What Made Thousands of Bees Drop Dead Along an Oregon Highway?Posted April 22, 2014 at 11:59 pm by Liz Klimas
Something is killing bees in Oregon.
While the sharp decline in bee populations is not unique to the state, a recent mass death of honey bees has investigators involved. Last year, about 25,000 dead bumbles were found in a shopping center parking lot (later found to be the result of pesticide use).
The most recent incident was spotted in Sherwood, Ore., soutwest of Portland, along Highway 99.
Sherwood resident Danya Anderson was driving on Highway 99 when she spotted the bees.
“There were a bunch on the ground and a bunch swarming,” local resident Danya Anderson told KGW-TV. “Some were crawling and some were dead already.”
Pat Mitchell with the state’s Department of Agriculture Insect Pest Prevention & Management told the news station that an investigation, which includes taking samples, was launched after it received “calls of concern.”
Watch KGW’s report:
The news station noted that there are established hives and agricultural fields in the nearby vicinity.
Bruce Pokarney, a spokesman for the department, told the Oregonian that some hives are on property of an abandoned house.
“Who the heck do those belong to?” Pokarney said of the hives, noting that this is something investigators will nee to figure out as well.
Washington Post Editorial Board Accuses Obama Admin. of ‘Dithering’ on Ukraine, RussiaPosted April 22, 2014 at 11:03 pm by Becket Adams
As the situation in Ukraine grows increasingly volatile and Russia’s expansion into the west goes unchecked, the Obama administration has failed to project strength, confidence and leadership, according to the Washington Post’s editorial board.
The Post in its criticism of the White House references Secretary of State John Kerry who said Thursday that the U.S. expects Russia to abide by a recent agreement to “de-escalate tensions and restore security” in Ukraine.
“We fully expect the Russians … to demonstrate their seriousness by insisting that the pro-Russian separatists who they’ve been supporting lay down their arms [and] leave the buildings” in Ukraine, Kerry said. “I made clear to Foreign Minister [Sergei] Lavrov today that if we are not able to see progress … this weekend, then we will have no choice but to impose further costs on Russia.”
But Russia has done no such thing. In fact, as the Post editorial board notes, Russia has only escalated tensions in Ukraine.
Russia’s “operatives and those they control have not withdrawn from the government buildings they occupy,” the Post editorial board said. “In Slovyansk, the crossroads where Russian military operatives appear to be headquartered, a shooting incident early Sunday morning has been seized on by Moscow’s crude propaganda apparatus, which is claiming — based on what looks like fabricated evidence — that a Kiev-based right-wing group was involved.”
Further, on Monday, Lavrov again threatened a full-blown invasion of Ukraine, explaining that Russia is “increasingly called upon to save southeastern Ukraine from chaos.”
In short, Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to ignore the Obama administration’s so-called “red lines,” disregarding in a very public way all warnings from the United States. And according to the Washington Post, there’s a reason Putin does this: “President Obama also doesn’t observe them.”
True, the editorial board notes, Vice President Joe Biden will announce more aid for Ukraine. But even that probably won’t be enough to deter Putin.
“[S]teps such as providing nonlethal equipment to the dysfunctional Ukrainian army will not stop a Russian invasion or induce Mr. Putin to comply with last week’s Geneva agreement,” the Post said. “Perhaps nothing will; but the only strategy with a chance of working is to follow through on the administration’s own rhetoric.”
Kerry responded originally to news that Kremlin operatives had taken over buildings in Donetsk by announcing that broad and tough economic sanctions against Russia were “on the table.”
“Those steps would give pause to the Russian elite, if not Mr. Putin. Fear of them probably induced Mr. Lavrov to sign on to the de-escalation plan, as a way of preventing the West from acting. Yet now White House aides are waving off the ‘sectoral’ sanctions Mr. Kerry spoke of and are delaying even more modest steps against individuals,” the Post said.
“For weeks Mr. Obama has held back on forceful measures against Mr. Putin’s aggression in Ukraine on the theory that a measured approach matched with diplomacy would yield results,” the Post added. “The policy has failed. Now Mr. Obama must act — or doom Ukraine to dismemberment.”
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
‘Justified’ Star Explains Why America Needs to See the Story of One of ‘Most Prolific Serial Killers’ in American History on the Big ScreenPosted April 22, 2014 at 10:34 pm by Jason Howerton
“Justified” star Nick Searcy says the story of one of America’s “most prolific serial killers,” notorious abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, is important and deserves to be told on the big screen.
However, left-leaning Hollywood is in no rush to finance the film so the filmmakers are relying on crowd funding to get the project of the ground. Searcy said the project has raised roughly $1.2 million so far, more than half of its $2.1 million goal.
O’Reilly was seemingly skeptical of the movie, titled “Gosnell,” questioning the idea of making a movie about killing babies. The host said he wasn’t sure “Hollywood people would take this even if they weren’t pro-choice.”
“Oh, yeah I think they would,” Searcy shot back. “Basically, it’s a true crime story, Bill. It’s a story about one of the most prolific serial killers in American history. It’s gruesome, it’s violent, it’s gory, it’s horrific, it’s bloody — and Hollywood loves those kinds of things.”
O’Reilly argued there are not many movies about “infanticide” because viewers may have a hard time watching a movie where babies are being murdered.
“I don’t know if I would sit through it,” O’Reilly added. “I know what happened there, and I’m glad I reported on it, and I’m glad the guy was put away for the rest of his life.”
When O’Reilly asked the outspoken conservative actor if there is an “anti-pro-life bias” in Hollywood, Searcy responded: “I don’t think there’s any question about it.”
The story of Gosnell’s killing spree is a captivating story, Searcy said. He explained that Gosnell was a well-respected member of his community and he was able to operate for 30 years with officials turning a blind eye to his activities.
“It says a lot about society,” he added. “And this isn’t just an exploitation film, as you said. It’s a story about why this happened.”
O’Reilly then clarified he was referring to different movie as an example of an “exploitation film,” not the Gosnell movie. That movie, if you are curious, was “The Human Centipede.”
Incredible Images Show Deadly Result of D-Day Rehearsal on the Ocean FloorPosted April 22, 2014 at 9:55 pm by Liz Klimas
BOSTON (TheBlaze/AP) — An unmanned submarine has recorded some of the most detailed images of two American ships that sank off the coast of England during World War II, according to the Massachusetts company that surveyed the wreckage to mark the disaster’s 70th anniversary.
Bourne, Mass.-based Hydroid says they are the first high-definition sonar images of two ships sunk by German forces during Exercise Tiger, a rehearsal for the D-Day invasion. The torpedo attack on April 28, 1944, claimed the lives of 749 U.S. soldiers and sailors.
Richard “Bungy” Williams, a regional manager for Hydroid Europe, said the company was interested in exploring the area because of the upcoming anniversary of the attack. He said the images will be donated to the United Kingdom’s National Archive and local memorials.
“We hope that the data collected on this mission will shed additional light on this tragic event and help bring some closure to the families who lost their loved ones during Exercise Tiger,” Williams said in a statement. “We are proud to use our technology to honor the memories of the servicemen who lost their lives in this tragic operation.”
The autonomous undersea vehicle recorded images of the two boats about 50 meters beneath the surface of the English Channel. Williams said divers have accessed the site before, but the submarine provided the highest quality images yet, including one showing a boat’s upturned stern.
“Using the AUV we could get down very close to the wreck,” he said. Hydroid, a subsidiary of Kongsberg Maritime, manufactures the vehicles.
Watch the company’s video about the expedition:
The casualties from Exercise Tiger were one of the least known Allied disasters of World War II. Fast-moving German torpedo boats happened upon the convoy, sank two ships and badly damaged a third during the practice run for the invasion.
The survivors were warned to keep it secret, and the casualties were not announced until nearly two months after the Normandy invasion. Full details were not known until 1974, when the records were declassified.
An annual wreath-laying to honor the victims is scheduled for Monday at U.S. Coast Guard Station Barnegat Light in New Jersey.
Elderly Man Called 911 for Ailing Wife — Why He’s Now Considering Pressing ChargesPosted April 22, 2014 at 9:30 pm by Oliver Darcy
An elderly man is considering suing a Missouri police department after he says officers assaulted him when he called for an ambulance to aid his ailing wife.
Elbert Breshears told KSPR-TV he dialed 911 for his wife who suffers from dementia.
“The wife and I were standing about here, that’s the window she knocked out. I was standing here holding her hand and she was wavering hollering help,” Breshears said.
Humansville police were first to respond to the scene.
According to Breshears, a “police car drove up” and an officer “bailed out ran over and knocked me down.”
“He told me to get up, I told him I couldn’t,” Breshears told KSPR.
That’s when things took a sudden turn.
“First thing, I know they grab me, threw me out there on the gravel. One of them sat down on my back, the other sat down on my head. They were trying to get handcuffs on me. I told them I can’t get my hands up. I have no objection to being handcuffed,” Breshears said.
Paramedics soon arrived at the seen and took he and his wife to the hospital. A doctor there examined his injuries.
“He dug out the gravel out of my head and sewed my head up,” Breshears said.
Police told KSPR that Breshears faces three charges: abuse of the elderly, resisting arrest and assault on a police officer.
Breshears adamantly denies those accusations.
“I don’t hit my wife. I’ve lived with the woman for 47 years. I love the woman. I can’t help what she does,” Breshears said.
“All I was trying to do was my job and this is what I got for it,” he added.
A spokesperson for the Humansville police department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheBlaze.
According to KSPR, Breshears’ wife is in the hands of professional care. Breshears is currently looking for a lawyer to possibly press charges against the police department.
Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter
NYPD’s Friendly Hashtag Campaign Backfires Big-TimePosted April 22, 2014 at 8:59 pm by Jason Howerton
The New York Police Department tried its hand at social outreach on Twitter Tuesday, deploying what was supposed to be a feel-good #MyNYPD hashtag.
The social media campaign backfired almost immediately, with users instead tweeting photos of instances of alleged police brutality by NYPD officers.
The hashtag hijacking has since gone viral. It should be noted, though, that not all the images being passed around are instances of real police brutality and many lack context.
Further, there were also several positive responses to the #MyNYPD hashtag. We’ll show you a little bit of both below:
— Luke Rudkowski (@Lukewearechange) April 22, 2014
— Dawud Walid (@DawudWalid) April 22, 2014
— Molly Crabapple (@mollycrabapple) April 22, 2014
— New Word Order (@NWO_NOW) April 23, 2014
— Andrew Kirell (@AndrewKirell) April 22, 2014
— Jeff Smith (@Jeff5mith) April 22, 2014
— Casey Aldridge (@CaseyJAldridge) April 22, 2014
Now, some of the more positive ones:
— Lindsay Dixon (@poshwonderwoman) April 22, 2014
— F. Soebratawidjaja (@firstysoe) April 22, 2014
— Hilda Cohen (@HildaBikes) April 22, 2014
— MDplusthree (@MDplusthree) April 22, 2014
As Mashable notes, Twitter users did the same thing to McDonald’s Starbucks and both 2012 presidential campaigns when they tried to push a catchy hashtag.
“The NYPD’s Wednesday foible, however, seems to be the most high-profile involving a police department,” the site adds. “New York City had a new mayor, Bill de Blasio, and a new police commissioner, William Bratton, started in January 2014. This is likely not how they imagined beginning a new era of public outreach.”
Cries of Anguish as South Korea Ferry Death Toll Reaches 130Posted April 22, 2014 at 8:35 pm by Associated Press
JINDO, South Korea (AP) — For a moment there is silence in the tent where bodies from the ferry disaster are brought for identification. Then the anguished cries begin.
The families who line up here to view the decomposing bodies have not known for nearly a week whether they should grieve or not. Now that they know, they sound like they’re being torn apart.
“How do I live without you? How will your mother live without you?” a woman cried out.
She was with a woman who emerged from the tent crying and fell into a chair where relatives tried to comfort her. One stood above her and cradled her head in her hands, stroking her face.
“Bring back my daughter!” the woman cried, calling out her child’s name in agony. A man rushed over, lifted her on his back and carried her away.
The confirmed death toll from the April 16 disaster off South Korea’s southern coast reached 130 Wednesday, officials said, and more than 170 people were still missing. Four crew members accused of abandoning the ship and failing to protect the passengers were arrested, three days after warrants were issued for the captain and two other crew.
The victims are overwhelmingly students of a single high school in Ansan, near Seoul. More than three-quarters of the 323 students are dead or missing, while nearly two-thirds of the other 153 people on board the ferry Sewol survived.
The number of corpses recovered has risen sharply since the weekend, when divers battling strong currents and low visibility were finally able to enter the submerged vessel.
Emergency task force spokesman Koh Myung-seok said bodies have mostly been found on the third and fourth floors of the ferry, where many passengers seemed to have gathered. Many students were housed in cabins on the fourth floor, near the stern of the ship, Koh said.
One by one, coast guard officers carried the newly arrived bodies covered in white sheets from a boat to a tent on the dock of Jindo island Tuesday.
The bodies are then driven in ambulances to two tents: one for men and boys, the other for women and girls. Families listen quietly outside as an official briefs them, then line up and file in. Only relatives are allowed inside.
Bodies are being identified visually, but family members have been providing DNA samples in case decomposition makes that impossible.
Twenty-two of the 29 members of the ferry’s crew survived, and nine of them have been arrested or detained in connection with the investigation.
The captain, Lee Joon-seok, and two crew members were arrested Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Prosecutor Yang Jung-jin said a court issued arrest warrants Tuesday for four other crew members authorities had detained a day earlier. Two additional crew members were detained Tuesday.
The four crew members arrested Tuesday talked to reporters after a court hearing, their faces hidden with caps, hooded sweatshirts and masks.
One said they tried to correct the ferry’s listing early on but “various devices, such as the balance weight, didn’t work. So we reported the distress situation, according to the captain’s judgment, and tried to launch the lifeboats, but the ferry was too tilted and we couldn’t reach.”
The captain has said he waited to issue an evacuation order because the current was strong, the water was cold and passengers could have drifted away before help arrived. But maritime experts said he could have ordered passengers to the deck – where they would have had a greater chance of survival – without telling them to abandon ship.
The cause of the disaster is not yet known. Senior prosecutor Ahn Sang-don said investigators are considering factors including wind, ocean currents, freight, modifications made to the ship and the fact that it turned just before it began listing. He said authorities will conduct a simulation and get experts’ opinions.
A Ministry of Ocean and Fisheries official said Friday that the vessel had taken a sharp turn. But on Tuesday a ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity saying he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media, said the ministry now has more complete details about the ship’s path.
Data transmitted by the Sewol’s automatic identification system, an on-board transponder used for tracking, show that the ship made a J-shaped turn.
The ministry official said AIS data received by a central station was incomplete because the ship’s signal was weak, and that it missed more than three minutes of tracking. More complete data, retrieved from a base station in Mokpo, show that over the course of most of that time, the ship was making a roughly 180-degree turn.
Although the fisheries ministry released those details only on Tuesday, Ahn said prosecutors previously had complete details about the ferry’s path.
It remains unclear why the ship turned around. The third mate, who was arrested Saturday, was steering at the time of the accident, in a challenging area where she had not steered before, and the captain said he was not on the bridge at the time.
Shareholders of the Sewol’s owner, Chonghaejin Marine Co. Ltd., apologized in a statement that was distributed to reporters outside the office in Incheon, saying they feel “infinite sadness and responsibility.”
“We will humbly accept all responsibility for this accident and we will not hesitate to do anything to console the pain of victims and grieving families even a little bit,” said the statement from Yu Dae-kyun, Yu Hyuk-gi and others who are de facto owners of Chonghaejin. The company’s president had apologized earlier.
In Ansan, funerals were held for more than 10 of the teens Tuesday, and education officials were building a temporary memorial.
Loch Ness Monster Sighting? There’s Actually a Pretty Funny Explanation for This PhotoPosted April 22, 2014 at 8:30 pm by Elizabeth Kreft
Images of a strange figure in the Scottish highlands freshwater areas surfaced over the weekend, causing a bit of a stir in the media as speculation emerged of a Loch Ness Monster spotting.
“This shadowy form measuring around 100 feet long and seemingly with two giant flippers powering it through the waters of Loch Ness was photographed by a satellite…So large that it can be seen from space, it is enough to send shockwaves through even the most cynical Nessie sceptic,” the Daily Mail reported.
Even the Huffington Post got into the go (catch a) fish game, earning 5,000 likes on Facebook for their post.
The Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club president Gary Campbell, the group had been looking into the picture for years, according to PC Magazine.
“We’ve been looking at it for a long time trying to work out exactly what it is,” Campbell said. “It looks like a boat wake but the boat is missing. You can see some boats moored at the shore, but there isn’t one here. We’ve shown it to boat experts and they don’t know what it is.”
Alas, despite the clever journalistic quips and an image that does look a little like a giant fish of some sort, it only took internet debunkers a few hours to spot the flaws in this satellite image scare.
“No, we didn’t find the Loch Ness Monster with Apple Maps,” Southern Fried Science reported. “The accompanying image is a low-resolution satellite image of a boat wake … there’s really no deconstruction needed.”
These comparisons don’t help the Nessie believers either.
The official Nessie club still isn’t convinced.
“Whatever this is, it is under the water and heading south, so unless there have been secret submarine trials going on in the loch, the size of the object would make it likely to be Nessie,” Campbell said.
(H/T: PC Magazine)
Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter.
How a Blender and Something Found in Pencils Could Produce the World’s Strongest MaterialPosted April 22, 2014 at 8:00 pm by Liz Klimas
If you have a high-powered blender, a powder found in pencils, dish soap and 30 minutes, you could produce one of the strongest materials on the planet — though it’s not advisable that you try.
Graphene, the flexible, conducive material that can be only a single layer of carbon atoms thick and is stronger than diamonds, has countless applications, but is especially valuable for the role it plays in new electronics.
According to a recent study that evaluated how to produce graphene on an industrial scale, something that will become more important as demand grows, researchers described a surprisingly simple method. The Irish Times reported that the market for the “wonder material” will reach $100 million by 2018.
The team led by Jonathan Coleman with Trinity College Dublin’s materials science center demonstrated that a 400-watt kitchen blender (though industrial blenders would be preferred), graphite powder, water and a little soap could product a large amount of high-quality graphene flakes.
“You could probably do it at home in a kitchen blender. We demoed the process in a Kenwood blender from Argos worth €39.95 and added a bit of Fairy Liquid,” Coleman told the Irish Times.
“By fully characterizing the scaling behavior of the graphene production rate, we show that exfoliation can be achieved in liquid volumes from hundreds of milliliters up to hundreds of liters and beyond,” the authors wrote.
Graphene expert Andrea Ferrari with the University of Cambridge told Nature the technique is a “significant step forward toward cheap and scalable mass production.”
While this isn’t the only way to produce graphene, the researchers think the flakes produced with this method could have specific uses, such as in batteries, plastic bottle filler and more.
“Producing graphene has been done by others too, but many sheets are defective, it is not perfect, and so its properties are not what they should be. What we have done is develop a method to make defect-free graphene in large quantities and in principle very large quantifies to [tons],” Coleman told the Irish Times.
Why shouldn’t you try this at home? According to Nature, it wouldn’t necessarily work and you would render your blender unusable for food products afterward.
Learn more about why graphene is such an important material in this video from Discovery News:
Front page image via Shutterstock.
Ten Things You May Not Believe Have ‘Actually’ Been Blamed on Global WarmingPosted April 22, 2014 at 7:45 pm by Erica Ritz
Did you know climate change has been blamed for everything from malaria in airports to Kenya’s decreased coffee output?
On The Wonderful World of Stu Saturday, TheBlaze’s Stu Burguiere tackled some of what he considered to be the most ridiculous things “actually blamed on global warming.”
Headlines that made the list included, “Climate Change Depresses Beer Drinkers,” and “Fungus Once Again Threatens French Cave Paintings,” which speculated whether some of the world’s “most celebrated prehistoric paintings” are at risk because of global warming. The article also admitted “a defective temperature control system, the light used by researchers or the carbon dioxide exhaled by visitors” could be at fault.
Watch the clip below for the complete list of ten things “actually blamed on global warming.”
The full episode of The Wonderful World of Stu, along with many other live-streaming shows and thousands of hours of on-demand content, is available on just about any digital device. Get it all with a FREE TRIAL.
Listen to Room’s Reaction When Former EPA Employee Compares This ‘Ethical Problem’ to SlaveryPosted April 22, 2014 at 7:24 pm by Jason Howerton
Speaking at a debate on “fracking” at Colorado Christian University on Monday, a former employee of the Environmental Protection Agency compared the “ethical problem” of the oil drilling process to that of slavery.
“You know, slavery had a lot of economic benefits, but it had an ethical problem,” anti-fracking activist Wes Wilson said.
The room erupted in laughter, presumably at the outrageousness of the comparison — but we can’t be positive.
Watch the video via Revealing Politics:
UPDATE: TheCompleteColorado.com’s Michael Sandoval notes that Wilson wasn’t just talking about fracking, but also burning fossil fuels in general when he made the slavery comparison.
“Burning fossil fuels is an ethical problem. You can’t put under the seas Bangladesh or Micronesia because of our collective burning of fossil fuels. That’s what’s happening,” Wilson said.
Here’s a more complete video:
(H/T: Weasel Zippers)
IRS Awards Bonuses to More Than 1,000 Employees… Who Owe Back TaxesPosted April 22, 2014 at 7:00 pm by Becket Adams
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Internal Revenue Service has paid more than $2.8 million in bonuses to employees with recent disciplinary problems, including $1 million to workers who owed back taxes, a government investigator said Tuesday.
More than 2,800 workers got bonuses despite facing a disciplinary action in the previous year, including 1,150 who owed back taxes, said a report by J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration. The bonuses were awarded from October 2010 through December 2012.
George’s report said the bonus program doesn’t violate federal regulations, but it’s inconsistent with the IRS mission to enforce tax laws.
“These awards are designed to recognize and reward IRS employees for a job well done, and that is appropriate, because the IRS should encourage good performance,” George said. “However, while not prohibited, providing awards to employees who have been disciplined for failing to pay federal taxes appears to create a conflict with the IRS’s charge of ensuring the integrity of the system of tax administration.”
Other examples of misconduct by workers getting bonuses included misusing government credit cards for travel, drug use, violent threats and fraudulently claiming unemployment benefits.
The IRS said it has developed a new policy linking conduct and performance bonuses for executives and senior level employees.
“Even without a formal policy in place over the past four years, the IRS has not issued awards to any executives that were subject to a disciplinary action,” the IRS said in a statement. “We are also considering a similar policy for the entire IRS workforce, which would be subject to negotiations with the National Treasury Employees Union.”
The IRS had about 100,000 workers during the period under review.
In the 2011 budget year, more than 70,000 IRS workers got cash bonuses totaling $92 million, the report said. In the 2012 budget year, nearly 68,000 workers got cash bonuses totaling $86 million.
The report said the IRS considers prior conduct before awarding permanent pay increases. “However, IRS officials stated that the IRS generally does not consider conduct issues when administering other types of awards,” the report said.
There are no government-wide policies on providing bonuses to employees with conduct issues, the report said. However, a 1998 law calls for removing IRS employees who are found to have intentionally committed certain acts of misconduct, including willful failure to pay federal taxes.
Tax compliance at the IRS is generally better than at other federal agencies.
In 2011, 3.2 percent of federal workers owed back taxes, according to IRS statistics. The Treasury Department, which includes the IRS, had the lowest delinquency rate, at 1.1 percent.
The delinquency rate for the general public was 8.2 percent.
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
Watch What Happens When Reporter Relentlessly Presses State Dept. Official to Name One Accomplishment From Hillary-Led InitiativePosted April 22, 2014 at 6:30 pm by Jason Howerton
When pressed by Associated Press reporter Matt Lee at a Tuesday press conference, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was unable to name a single “tangible achievement” from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2010 Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review.
In 2009, Clinton announced the State Department would begin conducting routine performance reviews in the QDDR. The Pentagon reportedly uses a similar review process.
“Off the top of your head, can you just identify one tangible achievement that the last QDDR resulted in?” Lee asked the spokeswoman.
“Well, Matt, obviously it’s an extensive, expansive topic—“ Psaki began before getting cut off.
“So, no,” Lee interrupted.
The reporter continued to ask for “just one” accomplishment that resulted from the 2010 QDDR, but he never got a straight answer.
“I am certain that those who were here at the time who worked hard on that effort could point out one,” Psaki said.
Watch the clip below:
(H/T: Free Beacon)
Deputy Says She Snatched Two Cellphones and Detained Former Marine After He Got ‘Aggressive’ — But the Video Tells a Different StoryPosted April 22, 2014 at 5:22 pm by Jason Howerton
A North Carolina deputy with the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office was caught on video confiscating two different cellphones and detaining a former U.S. Marine after she claims he got “aggressive.” Her claims are now being called into question after video of the incident surfaced online.
The deputy, identified as Natalie Barber by Photography Is Not a Crime, was responding to a dog-related dispute between Carlos Jaramillo and a neighbor on Saturday.
Barber is seen on video asking Jaramillo for identification for the police report, an order he complies with by giving her his government-issued Veterans Affairs card. When she demanded he give her his driver’s license instead, he refused and claimed he wasn’t operating a motor vehicle.
“This is a government-issued ID,” Jaramillo calmly says in the video. “So why isn’t this good enough for you?”
“I don’t want that, I’m not taking it,” the officer replies.
“Even though it’s a government issued ID,” the man is heard repeating.
“Sir, we’re done,” Barber says.
“We’re not done,” Jaramillo responds.
It was at this point that the deputy lost her cool and shouted at the man to stop acting up.
“I’m done! I’m telling you I’m done! And if you continue to act up—“ she yelled, stopping mid-sentence.
Barber then ordered the man to put down his phone for her “safety” and when he refused, she snatched it out of his hand. She informed the man that she was going to pat him down for weapons and then she put him in handcuffs.
The deputy was clear that Jaramillo wasn’t under arrest, only detained for both of their safety.
When Jaramillo’s son started recording the officer detaining his dad with another phone, she confiscated that cellphone as well.
“I’m snatching everyone’s phone and I will take everyone in!” Barber screams.
Jaramillo’s son, who claims the officer hurt his hand, then got yet another phone to record the incident, but this time stayed inside their home’s screen door.
After Jaramillo was placed in the back of Barber’s squad car, another officer arrived on the scene and smoothed the situation over. The man was ultimately released and not charged with a crime.
Watch the video via Photography Is Not a Crime:
In her official police report, Barber claimed that she only confiscated the phones and detained Jaramillo after he got “angry” and was “being aggressive.”
Jaramillo reportedly complained to Barber’s supervisors about the incident but was told the officer acted properly because she feared for her safety.
Read the full police report here.
Listen to a Professor Tell Students That ‘Racist, Misogynistic, Money-Grubbing People’ Want to Prevent Minorities From VotingPosted April 22, 2014 at 4:49 pm by Oliver Darcy
A professor at a Connecticut public university was captured on audio this week warning students that “we will live in a very, very, very differing kind of country” if Republicans win control of the U.S. Senate.
“Racist, misogynist, money-grubbing people have so much power over the rest of us. And want things to go back—not to 1955, but to 1855,” professor Brent Terry added to his Introduction to Creative Writing class Monday morning.
The audio was captured by a student and published Tuesday by conservative college news website Campus Reform.
In the recording, the Eastern Connecticut State University professor continued also warned that “there are a lot of people out there that do not want black people to vote, do not want Latinos to vote. Do not want old people to vote, or young people to vote. Because generally, people like you are liberal.”
“…there are a lot of people out there that do not want black people to vote, do not want Latinos to vote.”
A spokesperson for the university told Campus Reform that professors have complete control over their classrooms.
“Our faculty has academic freedom to conduct their classes in whatever way they choose, this is not a university matter,” the spokesperson said.
Campus Reform reported that Terry did not respond to a request for comment.
Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter
Hot List: Banned Foods in the United StatesPosted April 22, 2014 at 4:30 pm by Amy Holmes
Amy Holmes takes a look at some surprising foods that are forbidden in America:
‘Reckless and Irresponsible’: Dem Maryland Gov. Candidate’s Attack on His Iraq War Vet Opponent BackfiresPosted April 22, 2014 at 4:00 pm by Jason Howerton
Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler, a Democratic candidate for governor of Maryland, has a public relations problem on his hands after he suggested his opponent, an Iraq war veteran, isn’t qualified for a “real job.”
Speaking at an event organized by the Tech Council of Maryland on Monday, Gansler took aim at Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, his opponent for the Democratic nomination, when asked about Maryland’s state-run health insurance exchange.
“I’m running against somebody who has never managed anybody, never run anything, his ads are about how he’s a lawyer in Iraq, and that’s all fine and good but this is a real job,” Gansler said.
He touted his leadership skills and experience working with budgets when explaining why he is the better candidate to tackle the state’s issues.
His comments, in full context, were captured on video:
“Gansler was referencing a recent campaign ad by Brown, in which he talks about serving in the Army ROTC, the Army Reserves and being deployed to Iraq,” Fox News reports.
Gansler backtracked and attempted to clarify his remarks in a statement, saying “I have the utmost respect for his military service and for veterans.”
“The point I was trying to make is that Anthony Brown’s only attempt to lead as Lieutenant Governor was the unmitigated debacle of the health exchange website that denied Marylanders access to health care and cost taxpayers nearly $200 million,” he added.
Brown responded to the attack on Tuesday, calling the statement “reckless and irresponsible.” He is not, however, demanding an apology.
“Doug Gansler has just again exhibited a lack of judgment, in this case his treatment of military veterans,” Brown said. “Each of them has a real job.”
Brown and Gansler will duel in the June 24 Democratic primary.
‘Stop Spreading Falsehoods’: Southern Baptists Hash Out Views on Gays, Porn and Pastoral Mistakes During Landmark SummitPosted April 22, 2014 at 3:49 pm by Billy Hallowell
The Southern Baptist Convention is holding a major summit on sexuality and moral conundrums facing the Christian faith, a three-day conference intended to address changing social tides.
More than 200 pastors are attending the Ethics Religious Liberty Commission Leadership Summit, which will address the “gospel and human sexuality to equip pastors and church leaders to speak to these critical issues in their own congregations,” according to a description on the Southern Baptist Convention website.
In addition to homosexuality, the summit, which will run from April 21-23 in Nashville, Tenn., will cover “sexual brokenness,” pastoral infidelity, broken marriages and pornography, offering advice on how faith leaders should be tackling these difficult moral conundrums.
Already the conversations have been both robust and controversial.
At a panel discussion Monday night, five pastors spoke to faith leaders affiliated with the denomination, delivering some very specific pieces of advice when it comes to handling homosexuality.
Those on the panel told pastors to “stop spreading falsehoods,” and to consider becoming friends with gay people regardless of whether Christians believe their sexuality aligns with the Bible, according to Nashville Public Radio.
“We’ve run off at the mouth, said things we shouldn’t have said. We’ve run around like a peacock all over the platform,” said Pastor Greg Belser of Morrison Heights Baptist Church in Clinton, Miss. “We have said things because we were playing to the home team, and they all liked our act. On this issue, nobody likes our act, except the redneck factor.”
But there was one comment in particular about homosexuality that sparked a great deal of discussion and attention on Twitter, as the Huffington Post noted.
Pastor J.D. Greear of Summit Church of Durham, N.C., compared the unpopularity of speaking out against homosexuality with the pains of speaking out against slavery in South Carolina back in 1861.
“Preaching against homosexuality in our day is about as popular as preaching against slavery and racism in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1861,” said Greear. “And back then, I’m sure the politically correct people were like, ‘You’re just creating a lot of waves that are unnecessary, just preach the gospel.’”
Despite the candid discussion, the denomination, which is the second largest in the U.S. behind Roman Catholics, hasn’t changed its views on the Bible’s stance on gay marriage and homosexuality, though, affirming that gays who refuse to become celibate cannot fully immerse themselves in the Southern Baptist Convention, Nashville Public Radio reported.
As for pornography, Heath Lambert, head of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, decried its prevalence, calling it the “greatest moral crisis in the history of the church,” according to the Tennessean.
The summit is also examining pastoral issues, encouraging faith leaders to take steps to keep themselves on track and pure when it comes to sexuality. Among the suggestions: put a glass door on the office so that others can see what is happening inside.
As for lunches and meetings with the opposite sex, Pastor Kie Bowman of Hyde Park Baptist in Austin, Texas, recommended not having these meetings one-on-one and, instead, doing so in a group setting to avoid any sexual impropriety.
You can watch a live stream of the event here.
(H/T: Nashville Public Radio)
‘Trespass Cattle’: Here’s a Look at One of the Latest Theories on the Bundy Ranch and the FedsPosted April 22, 2014 at 3:42 pm by Becket Adams
Allegations that the so-called “land grab” showdown between the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy was influenced by a deal involving Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and a Chinese-backed company failed to hold up to closer scrutiny last week.
But now, a new claim regarding what may have led to the tense standoff is starting to gain traction.
The latest theory on what may have provoked the armed showdown between Bundy and federal agents involves the Bureau of Land Management at one point referring on its website to “trespass cattle” in the Gold Butte area, the same area that the federal government and the 67-year-old rancher have battled over for more than 20 years.
The document, titled “Cattle Trespass Impacts,” which was removed from the Bureau of Land Management’s website in the midst of the standoff, discusses the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone project and its effect on the local wildlife.
“Non-Governmental Organizations have expressed concern that the regional mitigation strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone utilizes Gold Butte as the location for offsite mitigation for impacts from solar development, and that those restoration activities are not durable with the presence of trespass cattle [emphasis added],” the Bureau of Land Management said on its website.
But here’s the thing: The passage referring to “trespass cattle” appears to indicate only that the federal agency has an interest in detailing which of its solar projects have negative impacts on the local wildlife and vice versa.
“There is some feeble effort to try to mitigate the damage to wildlife [caused by solar development]. Some of it is near the sites of these bird-roasting solar mirrors. This is called ‘primary mitigation,’” reported Wildlife News, an environmental blog, adding that in instances where there could be harm done to wildlife in areas distant from solar developments, the federal government refers to this as “secondary mitigation.”
So, when the Bureau of Land Management uses the word “mitigation” in reference to the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone project, it’s referring specifically to maintaining lands used for clean energy initiatives. In instances where there are solar projects that may or may not harm local flora and fauna, the federal government tries to offset this damage by taking up various initiatives to ensure the long-term health of the land, such as planting grass or developing new water sources for local wildlife. And the federal government announced in a 2014 document that it has eyed the Gold Butte area for mitigation services.
But several private groups, including the Western Watersheds Project, Friends of Nevada Wilderness, Friends of Gold Butte and Friends of Joshua Tree Forest, say they don’t believe Gold Butte can be used to help offset possible damage from solar developments, such as the ones involved in the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone project, because any attempt to introduce new initiatives in the area would likely be destroyed by Bundy’s nearly 900 “trespass cattle.”
The “trespass cattle” note on the Bureau of Land Management’s website shows only that the federal agency detailed concerns regarding damage caused by Nevada’s solar projects and how “trespass cattle” in Gold Butte complicate efforts to offset damage from these clean energy developments.
The conclusion? It does not appear that the note serves as a smoking gun proving someone in the nation’s capital worked behind closed doors to force Bundy’s cattle out of Gold Butte in an effort to profit from an undisclosed deal.
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
This post has been updated to make it clearer that the BLM has eyed Gold Butte for mitigation services.
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