Thomas Mitchell: Constitution stretched to the breaking point

If words can mean anything anyone says they mean, then words are meaningless. That is what the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has done with the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

The appellate court overturned a federal judge who found that the Commerce Clause does not give Congress the power under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to regulate a species that exists only within the boundaries of one state and has no commercial value whatsoever — specifically the Utah prairie dog.

Nevada has joined with Utah and 21 other states to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to strike the circuit court ruling, saying that if the ruling stands “then Congress has virtually limitless authority, and the Tenth Amendment is a dead letter,” as well as the concept of federalism. (prairiedogamicusbrief)

If Nevada is to have any control over any economic activity within its borders, which include numerous endangered and threatened species, it is vital that the high court reverse this Constitution-rendering exercise in legerdemain.

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Former inmate shares life behind bars with Cliven Bundy

“Tell me about this standoff.”

And with that, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy found a biographer behind bars.

Bundy had invited a fellow inmate to sit down at a table with him. They chatted about farming, raising cattle, growing melons and grandchildren.

Soon, they were walking regular laps together around the inside of a large unit that housed 94 bunk beds between concrete cinderblock walls about 60 miles west of Las Vegas.

And when the time seemed right, inmate Michael Stickler broached the subject of why the Bundy patriarch was in custody at the Southern Nevada Detention Center in Pahrump.

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Cliven Bundy Sues DOJ and FBI Over Prosecutorial Abuse!

Complaint Meant to Force AG Sessions To Review and Dismiss Charges

(Washington, D.C., November 10, 2017). Today, Larry Klayman, the founder of both Judicial Watch and now Freedom Watch, announced a lawsuit filed in his private capacity on behalf of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who stood up to government tyranny under the Obama administration. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Case No. 1:17-cv-02429) against Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray in their official capacities, the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and the Inspector General (IG) over their failure to conduct an investigation into the bad faith and gross prosecutorial abuse by federal prosecutors and the destruction and hiding of material exculpatory evidence by the DOJ, FBI and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the ongoing criminal prosecution.

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Trial of the Century – Summarizing the Week

     Cliven Bundy, sons Ammon Bundy, and Ryan Bundy, and co-defendant Ryan Payne are accused of conspiring to block federal agents from enforcing court orders when the BLM tried to confiscate Cliven Bundy’s cattle.  The cattle were on public land where the ranch had grazing and water rights since the late 1800’s. The government’s actions resulted in the deaths of approximately 100 head of cattle and the destruction of the Bundy’s livestock watering system built throughout the last century. 

     The four defendants have been incarcerated since January of 2016.   They were each charged with 10 felonies.  Each man could be sentenced to more than a hundred years in prison for their involvement while resisting the confiscation.  The men are brought to court in shackles and each man has had a significant weight loss since their incarceration.  All their motions for pretrial releases have been denied.

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Judge denies release for Cliven Bundy amid courtroom outburst

LAS VEGAS — A judge declined Thursday to release Nevada cattleman Cliven Bundy days before trial, concerned he still doesn’t recognize federal authority and has a large incentive to flee with at least 80 years in prison hanging over his head if convicted of four of his 16 charges.

U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro also rejected release requests by Ryan Bundy and Ryan Payne and said she would make a decision later on Ammon Bundy.

Bret O. Whipple, the attorney representing the elder Bundy on charges in the 2014 standoff near Bunkerville, urged consideration for the patriarch’s age, his failing health and the reduced weight of evidence against him after unsuccessful conspiracy prosecutions against others in the case.

“He refers to himself as an old cow,” Whipple said, noting that the 71-year-old Bundy arrived in custody with 20 teeth and now has 10 to 15 teeth left because infections are treated by pulling teeth in jail and not with dental care.

“It’s been hard on him and his health has really deteriorated,” Whipple said.

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Prosecutors ordered to share reports on any camera, armed officers’ surveillance outside Bundy ranch

LAS VEGAS — Prosecutors in the Bundy trial must provide information by noon Saturday on all armed federal officers who did surveillance outside the Bundy ranch and any cameras capturing images of the Bundy home between March 1 and April 12, 2014, a judge ordered Wednesday.

The information must be turned over to the defense.

It could help Cliven Bundy, sons Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy and co-defendant Ryan Payne challenge the allegation that they used “deceit and deception” to encourage supporters to come to the ranch by saying the house was surrounded, federal snipers were outside the home and the family felt isolated.

Defense lawyers said they learned for the first time on Tuesday of two federal officers dressed in camouflage and armed with AR-15 rifles posted outside the Bundy residence at night.

That information was contained in a written report that they received from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in preparation for Wednesday’s hearing on disputed discovery evidence.

“Wouldn’t it be important for the defense to know FBI agents are overlooking the Bundy residence with an AR-15?” asked Brenda Weksler, one of Payne’s defense lawyers. “How do we not have this until yesterday?”

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Thomas Mitchell: Head spinning developments in the so-far ‘non-trial’ of Bunkerville defendants

Caution: Following the Bunkerville standoff trial proceedings can cause whiplash.

Today the federal judge again delayed the start of the trial for Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan, and self-styled militia member Ryan Payne. This time for a week. She agreed to hold hearings after Cliven Bundy’s attorney asked the charges be dropped because the prosecution had failed to reveal any recordings or notes taken off live surveillance video of the Bundy ranch during the April 2014 standoff. Ryan Bundy raised the question as to whether there was surveillance video several weeks ago.

“If it has potentially useful information, then the defense is entitled to it,” the judge is quoted by Reuters as saying. “I‘m not convinced that it doesn’t exist.”

The federal agents reportedly shredded documents after the standoff ended.

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Judicial tyrants strike blow against Cliven Bundy

In the years, months and days before the signing of the Declaration of Independence in my native city of Philadelphia, on July 4, 1776, King George III, having issued one unjust if not illegal edict after another, having unfairly prosecuted a number of key American colonialists, having severely taxed the people and having attempted to seize the firearms of citizenry so they could not rise up and challenge his will, invidiously took the criminal justice system back to the Court of King James, depriving the colonies of their own justice system. These were among the primary reasons our Founding Father’s and their colonies broke from the Crown, waged war to reassert their hoped for freedoms and conceived of and created a new nation.

Thomas Jefferson, perhaps our greatest Founding Father and president, predicted at the time that Americans would periodically have to renew their freedoms and wage periodic revolutions, even spilling blood if necessary. He and his colleagues knew that the tendency of mankind is to fall back to the despotic and corrupt ways of the British monarchy, and thus there needed to be constant vigilance and sacrifice in the future to preserve their God-inspired vision.

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Thomas Mitchell: A jury of their peers? Hardly

A federal jury is set to begin hearing opening statements Tuesday in the trial of four defendants in the Bunkerville standoff.

There are six women and six men on the jury and there are four alternates, three men, and a woman.

The judge said the trial is expected to take four months. A number of potential jurors were dismissed because they could not take four months out of their lives to devote to the trial. How many people can or are willing to? Is it a jury of their peers?

On trial is rancher Cliven Bundy, 71, sons Ammon Bundy, 42, and Ryan Bundy, 45, and a self-styled militia member Ryan Payne, 34, who showed up to protest the confiscation of Bundy’s cattle by the BLM. They are charged with conspiracy, extortion and various firearm charges. They have all been jailed for going on two years.

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Las Vegas trial to begin for rancher Cliven Bundy and sons

Cliven Bundy, lead defendant in a case stemming from a 2014 standoff with federal agents and the 71-year-old patriarch of a family with roots in the southeastern Nevada desert since the state was founded more than 150 years ago, won’t let his lawyer buy him a suit for trial.

Instead of the standard slacks, button-down shirt and tie that incarcerated male defendants often don while facing a jury, the recalcitrant rancher plans to wear a jail-issued blue jumpsuit and orange flip-flops when he faces potential jurors for the first time on Monday morning.

“He is so principled that he’s going to do what he’s going to do, which is tell the truth and tell it as he sees it, and he’s not worried about the consequences, other than the people around him,” his lawyer, Bret Whipple, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last week. “He refuses to put on civilian clothing because it would be misleading the jury, because he is who he is.”

Bundy, his two sons Ryan and Ammon and independent militia leader Ryan Payne have been locked up without bail in a federal holding facility for nearly two years. They face the potential of decades behind bars if convicted of conspiracy and other charges related to the armed standoff.

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Federal Agency Promoted Ranger Five Months After His Gun Was Stolen and Used in Steinle Killing

Five months after Kathryn Steinle was slain on San Francisco’s waterfront, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management promoted the law enforcement ranger whose unsecured stolen gun was used to kill her, according to an internal BLM email obtained by KQED.

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an undocumented Mexican national, is expected to go on trial in San Francisco next week on a charge of murder in Steinle’s killing. Conservative lawmakers have seized on Garcia Zarate’s history of deportations and illegal re-entry into the U.S. — plus San Francisco’s policy that ignored a detention request from immigration authorities — to fuel a political assault on so-called sanctuary cities.

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BLM experiments with ‘flexible’ grazing permits

The Bureau of Land Management is taking applications from Western states to test outcome-based grazing, which enables ranchers to manage according to current conditions rather than rigid permit requirements. BOISE — Mike Courtney may finally get the chance to implement a more common-sense grazing approach to controlling weeds and minimizing the wildfire risk in the Berger Resource Conservation Area.

Courtney, manager for the Bureau of Land Management’s Twin Falls District, will apply to include the grazing area south of Buhl in a BLM pilot project, testing a new approach intended to increase flexibility in grazing permits.

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Thomas Mitchell Newspaper column: Bill would limit power to create national monuments

The House Committee on Natural Resources this past week approved a bill sponsored by Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop to rein in the powers granted by the Antiquities Act of 1906 that allow a president to unilaterally create huge national monuments.

The bill advanced on a party line vote of 27-13, with Democrats in opposition.

The bill, H.R. 3990, the National Monument Creation and Protection Act, amends the Antiquities Act to limit the size of future monuments and specifically grants the sitting president the power to reduce the size of existing monuments — a power Democrats have argued President Trump does not have under current law.

During his administration President Obama created 26 national monuments totaling more than 500 million acres — including the 700,000-acre Basin and Range National Monument on the border of Lincoln and Nye counties and the 300,000-acre Gold Butte National Monument in Clark County.

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Larry Klayman: FBI-police cover-up of mass shooting?

I have seen it many times before. An FBI or law-enforcement informant, or some other “politically sensitive person,” commits a crime, and federal, state or local government authorities cover it up. This is the likely scenario in the wake of the Oct. 1, 2017, massacre in Las Vegas, perpetrated by an alleged mysterious man named Stephen Paddock. Let me give you just a few analogous examples.

First there is the famous case of Whitey Bulger, an Italian Mafia crime boss who was responsible for the deaths of many. Here briefly is how his Wikipedia describes his history as an FBI informant:

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More than a third of National Park Service employees harassed at work; Zinke calls for accountability, transparency

ST. GEORGE — Federal officials on Friday released the results of a survey in which 39 percent of National Park Service employees said they had experienced harassment or discrimination on the job, then vowed to take immediate action to deal with the problem.

“From day one, I made it clear that I have zero tolerance for harassment in the workplace, and I directed leadership in the National Park Service to move rapidly to improve accountability and transparency,” Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said. “All employees have the right to work in an environment that is safe and harassment-free.

“I’ve removed a number of people who were abusive or acted improperly that other administrations were too afraid to or just turned a blind eye to. Under my leadership, we’re going to hold people accountable. We are also fixing the problem of victims being afraid of retaliation or inaction by codifying the right for victims to report abuse to any manager in any location across the service, and by bringing on an independent, investigative partner.”

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