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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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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Is Prosecution Retaliating Against Todd Engel?

Todd Engel is one of the Bunkerville defendants that will face Judge Gloria Navarro in a sentencing hearing.

Out of a 16-count indictment, Engel was charged with 10 counts and convicted of 2 counts after his trial earlier this year.

These are the least serious of all the charges, and do not carry enhancements or mandatory minimum sentencing.

Greg Burleson was also convicted during the same trial, though he was convicted of 8 of 10 charges, including enhancements.

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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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Eric Parker To Plead To a Misdemeanor

The Trial of the Century has gotten a little bit smaller.

Currently, 6 men are expected to be tried in the Bunkerville Standoff trial expected to begin jury selection on October 30th. Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan, as well as Ryan Payne are ready. Eric Parker and Scott Drexler are scheduled for their third trial, after two previous trials this year resulting in acquittals and deadlocked verdicts.

But Parker and Drexler have been offered plea agreements by the government that will allow them to close the book on this chapter of their lives.

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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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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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Cliven Bundy: Feds don’t own Western states

Larry Klayman shares news in battle over land seized illegally by U.S. government. Events important for preserving America’s Constitution will be soon unfolding. Nevada rancher Cliven D. Bundy’s federal trial will finally begin in Las Vegas, Nevada, for a 2014 peaceful protest in support of the Constitution some incorrectly called “The Battle of Bunkerville.”

In fact, there was no battle from the standpoint of the peaceful protesters. Rather, it was the federal government – then run by former President Barack Obama – that threatened the Bundy family’s lives, beat the heck out of the sister of Cliven Bundy, Tasered his two sons, violently kicked the family dog and killed many of their cattle, burying them in a mass secret grave.

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Antiquities Act weakens rural communities by robbing them of lands

GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah said Wednesday that the Antiquities Act of 1906 represents the kind of collusion among special interests, bureaucrats and the executive that he was elected to fight.

“[The Antiquities Act] is an attack on our republican form of government that weakens rural communities by robbing them of agency and opportunity on the surrounding lands,” Lee said in a speech at a joint Heritage Foundation and Sutherland Institute event Wednesday on abuses of the Antiquities Act. “What is needed is wholesale reform of the Antiquities Act, to return its monumental power back to where it belongs: To the people who reside closest to the proposed monuments.”

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BLM Potential chief clashed with agency, represented Bundy

Wyoming-based property rights attorney Karen Budd-Falen yesterday acknowledged she is under consideration to become the next director of the Bureau of Land Management but said she has yet to determine if she would want to take the helm of the agency she has clashed with throughout her career.

Budd-Falen, who spoke with E&E News from her Cheyenne, Wyo., law office, said she has spoken with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke about the post, although she does not know when the Trump administration will select a nominee.

A spokesman for the Interior Department said this week he did not have any information on potential nominees or the selection process.

But while Budd-Falen, who served on the Trump administration’s transition team at Interior, acknowledged that she is interested in leading the agency, she added that she is torn about potentially leaving her home state.

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Trump okays emergency wildfire funding, urges quick Forest Service reforms

On the afternoon of October 4, President Trump’s Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney, announced the Administration would work with Congress to fund $577 million in supplemental wildfire disaster relief. The announcement came shortly after 32 members of the Congressional Western Caucus submitted a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), calling for a swift response to the nation’s wildfire crisis. With the approval for funding also came a request from the Trump Administration for quick Forest Service management and budgeting reforms to correct the failed policies which have resulted, in part, in this year’s devastating wildfires.

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Is the BLM Hiding Evidence in the Bunkerville Trial?

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has only been around since 1946 and has not had too many noteworthy events in their own right. The most noteworthy of all BLM operations in the past decades seems to be the Bunkerville Standoff and the underlying cattle impoundment operation that preceded the protest.

When the BLM are actively involved with any situation they, like all other departments of the Federal Government, will issue press releases so the public will understand said events (their version).

The BLM Website has an entire section devoted to press releases dating back to November 2006. There are hundreds of press releases, almost an average of one per day.

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Bundy Attorney Wants Jury Instructed On Militia And Right To Resist Tyranny

Las Vegas – Just before the court deadline at 11:03 PM MST on September 28, 2017 Ammon Bundy defense attorney Morgan Philpot filed a formal request for jury instructions in the upcoming criminal trial scheduled to begin Tuesday, October 10 of Bundy.  The filing included a request and supporting legal authority that the jury should be instructed that:

“Defendants’ rights to possess and carry firearms are not on trial. Under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, a person has the right “to keep and bear arms,” that is to own, to possess, and to carry firearms, including for the purposes of participating in a citizen militia. Thus, [a] defendant’s possession and use of a firearm and participation in, or association with, militia activity for the purpose of resisting tyranny and usurpations of power by the federal government is protected by the Second Amendment unless that defendant intended his actions to constitute a deliberate act of force, threat or intimidation against an officer of the United States in furtherance of the alleged conspiracy charged in Count two.

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Deep State at the Department of the Interior

Ryan Zinke, the secretary of the Interior Department, said that almost a third of his agency’s employees aren’t exactly President Donald Trump supporters — or fans of the American flag, for that matter.

Holy cow. Why are they still there? Talk about a deep state.

It’s one thing to work in the federal government for people with whom you politically disagree. It’s another thing entirely to work in the federal government of a country you don’t entirely support.

In a different day, a different time, that’d be cause for a red flag followup from U.S. intel agents concerned about government collapse or takeover from communist-aligned enemies, or otherwise anti-American forces.

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Newspaper column Thomas Mitchell : Zinke’s national monument modifications too modest

Frankly, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s memo to President Trump recommending modifications to a few national monuments — including the 300,000-acre Gold Butte National Monument in Clark County — is far too modest, but it has the Democratic contingent of Nevada’s Washington delegation squealing like a pig stuck under a gate.

Zinke recommended unspecified changes to the Gold Butte boundaries but totally ignored the massive 700,000-acre Basin and Range National Monument that straddles the border between Nye and Lincoln counties, even though members of the Congressional Western Caucus recommended reducing it to 2,500 acres — “the smallest area compatible,” as the law says, to protect the Indian petroglyphs there.

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