The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 5th, 2016: This Land Is Still Our Land

I’ve written before about the emails from the American Land Rights Association that somehow end up coming to my office, and how Charles Cushman has been involved with the Hammonds, the scofflaws whose imprisonment for starting fires on federal land provided the match that started the Malheur Wildlife Refuge ‘insurrection.’

Earlier this week another ‘newsletter’ email arrived, containing, in part, the following:

War In The West, the Hammond Story
Stop Land and Water Conservation Fund

The War In The West: Time To Stop Federal Land Acquisition

Robert J. Smith, Senior Fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research 1/15/16

Media attention on the plight of Dwight and Steven Hammond in Burns, Oregon — sent to prison as “terrorists” — has focused more on the activities of some who have come to their “support” than on the cause of the broad-based unhappiness with the federal government.

But first it is important to clarify the Hammonds’ “crime.” Most reports note they were prosecuted for arson on federal lands. They were prosecuted under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, passed following the 1995 bombing of the federal building in downtown Oklahoma City. Bombing a federal building is an act of terrorism. Burning 140 acres of grass, sagebrush and weeds to halt wildfires and remove invasive brush is not terrorism.

Ranchers, farmers, foresters and miners homesteaded the West, often before government reached that far, or states or counties were created. The successors of these landowners are today surrounded by a sea of federal lands. Across the West over half the land and resources are owned by the federal government. In Oregon it owns 53 percent of the land, and 75 percent in Harney County, home of Burns and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The county is over 10,000 square miles in size, larger than nine states. With a population of barely 7,000 people, it is effectively a federal colony, controlled and administered by the federal government.

The federal government owns 85 percent of the state of Nevada and 64 percent of both Utah and Idaho — effectively making rural landowners little more than serfs, precluding utilization of natural resources, reducing the tax base and impoverishing local and county governments, which are then unable to fund schools and police…

Evermore onerous government regulations make it difficult for landowners to use their lands and often next to impossible to cross the government lands on historic rights-of-way for access to water and grazing lands. Selective enforcement of laws like the Endangered Species Act can prevent landowners from using land that has no endangered species, but does have habitat the species could use if they were there…

Yet even with this hegemonic control of the rural West, the federal government continues to acquire more land. It is expert at making regulatory harassment so onerous that eventually farmers and ranchers simply give up and sell out to the government — becoming what the Feds euphemistically refer to as “willing sellers.”

Anger against such treatment arose during the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s, when state governments demanded a return of their land and resources and equality with states in the East. That opposition to federal ownership was tempered by the Reagan Administration’s easing of the regulatory regime.

But as the federal government has accelerated its efforts to acquire more land and force people off their lands, mounting opposition and calls for change have flourished. Another Sagebrush Rebellion is underway, headed by counties and state legislatures. Several Western states have introduced legislation demanding the return of their lands. Both houses in Utah have passed such legislation and Governor Herbert has signed the law.

It is time to place a moratorium on any additional land acquisition by the federal government, to undertake an inventory of government landownership at all levels, and to begin taking steps towards devolution of federal ownership and return the lands and resources to responsible and caring ownership and stewardship. This would not threaten genuine environmental amenities and values.

America has a long tradition of successful private ownership of wildlife refuges, parks, and forests. If, for instance, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were owned by a conservation organization, such as an Audubon Society, it would not be able to bully and harass its farming and ranching neighbors who willingly share their lands with the wildlife, but would have to deal with them in a legal and peaceful manner — while still protecting the wildlife.

It is ironic that Americans are still fighting colonial subjugation by a hegemonic government — located now in Washington, D.C., rather that England. James Madison wrote: “Government is instituted to protect property of every sort.” That is what Oregon is really about.”

There was a lot more about related topics, but the above is enough for the time being. The missive ends with:

“Google Alert: You can find additional information about national issues and battles American Land Rights has been involved in by going to Google and typing in the following search terms one at a time: Chuck Cushman, Charles Cushman, Charles S. Cushman, American Land Rights Association, National Inholders Association and League of Private Property Voters.”

Well, actually, no you CAN’T find additional information, because if you type in those search terms, they all lead back to the American Land Rights Association–some directly, some by a more circuitous route. I tried to do a bit more digging.

According to Buzzfile, the “Business Description” of the American Land Rights Association is:

“American Land Rights Association, which also operates under the name National Inholders Association, is located in Battle Ground, Washington. This organization primarily operates in the Business Associations business / industry within the Membership Organizations sector. This organization has been operating for approximately 44 years. American Land Rights Association is estimated to generate $500,000 in annual revenues, and employs approximately 6 people at this single location.”

Okay…so what does the category “Membership Organization” mean?

“The Membership Organizations sector covers 7 categories including Professional Organizations, Labor Organizations, and Political Organizations.

[Emphasis mine.]

Alright…a little more digging…how about, who is the “League of Private Property Voters”?

VoteSmart.Org says:

“Description:
“LPPV is a coalition of more than 800 grassroots organizations that advocate the rights of property owners, including farmers, ranchers, woodlot owners, residents of rural communities, owners of recreational property, and inholders of private property located within and adjacent to federal lands. It also includes cabin permittees, off-road vehicle owners, equestrians, snowmobilers, hunters and recreational shooters, and livestock grazers, foresters and miners who make productive use of federal lands.”

I found a ‘biography’ of Mr. Cushman – a bit outdated, but quite telling – oh, and this ‘biography’ has him at “Property Rights Foundation of America”(R):

“April 1999
Chuck Cushman is the executive director of the American Land Rights Association (ALRA), formerly the National Inholders Association, which is a public interest advocacy organization that works to protect landowners across America who are affected by various growth management schemes as well as the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act (wetlands) and other Federal land use regulatory laws.

Mr. Cushman is also the Chairman of the League of Private Property Voters (LPPV), which was organized in 1990 to develop and publish the Private Property Congressional Vote Index, a Congressional vote scorecard designed to let the public know how each Congressman and Senator voted on important land-use issues. Almost 500,000 copies were distributed in 1996.

Referred to in various press reports as the “Desert Fox” and “Mr. Rent-A-Riot,” Mr. Cushman has worked over 24 years to help local communities get on the political playing field and compete effectively with Federal agencies and extreme environmental groups who seek to eliminate private uses and public access from “their” lands. He is widely respected for his successful leadership of local communities against those groups and individuals who seek to remove inholders and multiple-users by condemnation or whatever other means they can achieve.

He has written numerous articles on inholder rights; lectured at colleges and universities; appeared as an expert guest on Late Night America, Today on NBC, All Things Considered on public radio, CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC news; been a subject of segments of 60 Minutes, The Newshour with Jim Lehrer and CNN Presents; has been featured in numerous national magazines regarding land-use issues; appeared as guest speaker before hundreds of multiple-use and private property advocacy groups and political interest organizations.

ALRA and LPPV have become significant players in land use and private property issues throughout the United States. ALRA has 18,000 members in 50 states and is acknowledged as a successful advocate for property owners and users of Federal and state lands in all manner of natural resource areas across America.”

If they’re the same organization, and it appears that they are, how have ALRA and LPPV “become significant players” – especially when, as I found in my previous post on ALRA, there appears to be only two employees, one of whom is Charles Cushman?

I next tried looking into the National Center for Public Policy Research. Wikipedia says:

“NCPPR’s work is in the areas of environmental, retirement security, regulatory, economic, and foreign affairs. Particular areas of interest include global warming, endangered species, energy policy, environmental justice, property rights, legal reform, Medicare reform, health care, Social Security, civil rights, foreign affairs/defense and United Nations reform/withdrawal…

NCPPR is a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition, whose object is described as “dispelling the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis”.

Amy Moritz Ridenour was and is still, as far as I can tell, the president of NCPPR. Amy has previously been on the wrong side of some major issues, i.e., writing op-eds on behalf of Big Tobacco. And, boy howdy, look who used to be a board member of the NCPPR: the infamous Jack Abramoff, lobbyist extraordinaire.

“Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff was a member of NCPPR’s Board of Directors; he resigned in October 2004 after NCPPR’s Board of Directors concluded he had violated the organization’s conflict of interest policy.

In October 2002, Abramoff directed the Mississippi Band of Choctaws to give $1 million to NCPPR, and then told Amy Ridenour to distribute the funds to Capital Athletic Foundation ($450,000), Capitol Campaign Strategies ($500,000) and Nurnberger and Associates ($50,000). In June 2003, Greenberg Traurig, the firm that employed Abramoff, sent $1.5 million to NCPPR, of which Ridenour distributed $250,000 to Capital Athletic Foundation and the remainder to Kay Gold LLC, both controlled by Abramoff. Ridenour said in testimony that she believed Abramoff co-conspirator Michael Scanlon was the owner of Kay Gold (Kaygold).

The Wiki page for Amy Ridenour includes:

“According to Nina Easton’s Gang of Five, Amy Moritz was a veteran organizer of the College Republican National Committee. She was a candidate in 1981 for election as national chairman of the organization, opposed by Jack Abramoff.
Abramoff, Ralph Reed, and Grover Norquist persuaded Moritz to drop out of the race by promising her the appointed position of executive director. With the only serious competitor out of the way, Abramoff won the election easily.

Although Moritz was later rebuffed by the “Abramoff-Norquist-Reed triumvirate” and only given the titular position of “deputy director”, she continued to work with the group and became a good friend of Norquist. Abramoff would also later become a director of the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR).

Lastly, on a whim, I decided to simply put in a search for “Robert J. Smith, Senior Fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research” – and laughed when the only relevant result was a link to the same diatribe that ALRA sent, as posted at – wait for it – The Daily Caller.

The kicker was a comment posted at the Daily Caller thread by none other than Amy Ridenour:

Amy Ridenour [to] Esef Brewer • 2 months ago
You’re not the most clever bird in the nest, are you? Try hunting and fishing or even walking on many federal lands sometime and learn the hard way.

One might have thought that someone who helped bilk Native American tribes out of millions of dollars really shouldn’t be commenting about “federal lands” on a public forum…but then, The Daily Caller isn’t all that popular a public forum, which means that Amy is right at home there.

This is our daily Open Thread – I’ve had enough delving for today, now it’s your turn to talk.

The Watering Hole Hole, Tuesday October 27, 2015 – Environmental News and Food Politics

100 Mayors Sign Milan Urban Food Policy Pact

The industrial food complex has not had rival competition, but could this new food initiative lay the groundwork for nutritional integrity, fair prices, and fair labor standards? It might take 50 years to overcome the present dominance, but the diet for a small planet has to have political stakeholders to effect change.

A new food infrastructure?

From the article…

The Framework recommends 37 actions, among them

  • Identify, map and evaluate local initiatives
  • Develop or revise urban food policies and plans
  • Address non-communicable diseases associated with poor diets and obesity, giving specific attention where appropriate to reducing intake of sugar, salt, transfats, meat and dairy products and increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables and non-processed foods
  • Develop sustainable dietary guidelines to inform consumers, city planners (in particular for public food procurement), food service providers, retailers, producers and processors, and promote communication and training campaigns.
  • Explore regulatory and voluntary instruments to promote sustainable diets involving private and public companies as appropriate, using marketing, publicity and labelling policies; and economic incentives or disincentives; streamline regulations regarding the marketing of food and non-alcoholic beverages to children in accordance with WHO recommendations.
  • Those aimed at social and economic equity (cash transfers, school feeding programs, employment, education, training, research).
  • And those aimed at improving food production and reducing waste.

Urban Agriculture

The Watering Hole, Tuesday June 23, 2015 – Environmental News and Food Politics

“More than 90 percent of the shrimp consumed in the U.S. is imported from overseas, and yet in 2014 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only inspected 3.7 percent of shrimp imports and tested 0.7 percent.”

Our miniscule shrimp industry feels this way about the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal: “Members of the U.S. shrimp industry are voicing concerns that elements of a major trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, could weaken the ability of regulators to reject unsafe seafood imports.”

The rest of the story here.

The Watering Hole, Tuesday June 16, 2015 – Environmental News and Food Politics

I was under the impression for a long time that the back-up food supply for the world was about 30 days. This writer claims that the statement is effective propaganda from the food industry (but he doesn’t state what it actually is). The theme of the article (link below) is that building local food supply can overcome the food industry’s constant chant that the world needs them or we’ll all starve.

Before WWII, the country ate virtually all organic food (because pesticides and chemical additives were basically formulated as part of the war effort.), yet the food industry today claims that organic is a niche market for the well off, but no solution to our current situation. However, we fed 132 million people in 1939 organic food. So, does the guy have an argument?

Organic and local for all?

The Watering Hole, Tuesday March 17 (St. Patty’s Day)

Human antibiotics in meat took another downturn today as club wholesaler Costco is phasing them out of its stores. The story is that Big Agriculture gets the bright idea to doctor the food without studies to determine safety. The FDA goes along because , well, what can be the harm? Only later do we find antibiotic resistance on the rise. As a therapist I knew once said ‘think before you stink’. Can this apply to corporations too?

The antis have it.

Here’s an interesting twist on milk. An Australian researcher claims that milk of most westerners contains a-1 proteins. This a-1 protein was a genetic accident 10,000 years ago in some dairy cattle. Now it is all we drink. The researcher says that a-2 protein is what existed before in these herds, and is what most of the worlds drinks. The research is claiming that a-2 milk is more compatible with the human digestive system. Californians will be the first to tell us whether a-2 is better.

Got a2 milk?

Happy St. Patty’s Day.   Open thread.

The Watering Hole, Tuesday December 2, 2014 Environmental News and Food Politics – A Different Kind of Kickoff

OK, you sports haters are going to love this one. A college president at a Dallas HBCU dropped football and re-purposed the field in to an organic farmstead, where students do work-study. The college is located in a grocery desert (read black ghetto) where residents have little opportunity to shop for fresh food. The president challenged the college’s board to be relevant in the community in which the college resides. Article published by the Mothership of Sports Programming (ESPN). You need to read this.

Radical transformation of a college community.

Open thread.

Michael Sorrell, who scrapped Paul Quinn’s football program seven years ago, stands in a field of greens.

 

The Watering Hole, Tuesday November 18, 2014

Michael Pollan Talks Turkey

Something to get us ready for the T-Day. Thank goodness that there were farmers who kept alive heritage breeds and seeds. Quality is coming back to our food system, a little at a time. And the Slow Food Movement has been one of the biggest influences on healthy farm to table eating.

Health in every slow bite.

A Narragansett heritage breed turkey

The Wateing Hole: Tuesday September 9, 2014 – Envionmental News and Food Politics

1. Is this money well spent?

The grass is greener…

A better idea might be to replace the lawn with wildlife friendly native plants, or a vegetable plot. Here in Eugene, you’ll see many font yards tuned in to productive organic gardens.

 

2. If you can handle the English spellings and can convert from Euros to dollars, here is a compelling article.

The case for smaller, healthier dairy herds

Got milk to throw away?

 

 

The Watering Hole, Tuesday August 26, 2014 – Environmental News and Food Politics

Since it is harvest time, going to focus on food politics for this post.

First, how about a smart phone app that can determine whether the product you are buying leans Democratic or Republican. You get to vote in the food aisle every time you shop.

Corn flakes – Repub or Dem?

Next up – drought and bottled water. Did you know that most of the stuff comes from drought prone states?

Water from where?

Last – a staggering number of Americans will succumb to Type 2 Diabetes and many of them are people of color without good access to fresh veggies or good information about diet and nutrition. It doesn’t hurt that they are inundated with advertising pointing to bad food choices. Think about how many McDonald’s commercials have people of color featured. These commercials are not about being inclusive or progressive. They are predatory. When was the last time you saw a black person touting the benefits of arugula?

Fritos, Egg McMuffins, Whoppers, …supersize me!

Can you eat just one?

 

 

The Watering Hole Tuesday August 19, 2014 -Environmental News and Food Politics

Ugh!

So to be theoretically opposed to factory farms because of what they might do falls on deaf ears, but when people in Ohio have been advised this month on multiple occasions to stop drinking their tap water, the culprit suddenly becomes legitimate.

Don’t drink the water!

I  guess it will be that way with global warming too. When rich Republicans find their beachfront property under water it will be time to do something, won’t it?

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 28th, 2014: Childhood (and history) Lost?

The development where Wayne and I grew up sits atop a hill overlooking the Middlebranch Reservoir to the west, and used to be part of the Tilly Foster Farm to the north. When my family moved there in the late ’50s, we were visited by cows, sheep and goats from the farm, as our road was the closest to the farm’s property. Several acres were left undeveloped between us and the farm, which made for an enjoyable childhood spent roaming the woods, climbing trees and building ‘forts.’

While we were growing up, the farm mostly had horses; at one time, I remember, they had a Secretariat foal at the farm, and were a bit uptight about security: I pulled into the entrance once to take a picture, and within moments, a cop car arrived. For a while, it was closed as the county decided how best to utilize the property. Until a short while ago, the farm was run as a living museum, with old tractors and other farm equipment on display, as well as various breeds of cows, sheep, chickens, pigs,etc. The goal of the farm was to showcase rare American farm animals.
tilly foster sheepTilly Foster Farm 2012tilly foster goats 2tilly foster donkeytilly foster calves

Now, however, for some reason the county has decided to close the farm. Although the new caretaker just took delivery of newborn chicks for the farm, it is uncertain exactly what is ahead. According to one commenter at the farm’s website, a carnival was held there over 4th of July weekend. A terse notice on the museum’s ‘Welcome’ page states:

“The Society for the Preservation of Putnam County is no longer managing the farm. All of the rare American farm animals have been sold and we will not sponsor any more events at the farm.”

Hopefully the farm will be reopened as a living museum again. For us locals, the history of our area would be done a great disservice if this beautiful landmark were to be ruined for the sake of ‘progress.’

This is our daily open thread–what’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole, Tuesday June 24, 2014 Environmental News and Food Politics

Study links pesticides and pregnancies with increased risk of autism:

“Pregnant women who lived in close proximity to fields and farms where chemical pesticides were applied experienced a two-thirds increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental delay, according to a new study.”

Another reason to go organic

New study shows link between bald eagle deaths and lead ammunition

“Endangered California condors have been the poster birds for calls to get lead ammunition out of our environment, but they might have to make some room for our nation’s most iconic raptors thanks to a new study showing how lead ammunition is also harming bald eagles.”

The NRA isn’t going to like this one.

Oppose the DARK act.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association has introduced a bill in Congress that would block states from enacting GE food labeling laws and make “voluntary labeling” the law of the land. Big Food is trying to kill your right to know if the food you’re eating is genetically engineered.

The food giants want to control the debate.

 

The Watering Hole Tuesday May 6, 2014 – Environmental News and Food Politics – Open Thread

Here is a sad statement about our last unexplored places:

“Most of the deep sea remains unexplored by humans, and these are our first visits to many of these sites, but we were shocked to find that our rubbish has got there before us.” stated one researcher from an international study team.

Trash before we get there.

Staying with our ocean theme, we seem to be slowly but steadily destroying the food chain, starting with the largest organisms first (think whales, tuna, sharks) and now right to the bottom of it, where acidification of the ocean melts the shells of tiny marine snails. Dare to dream of a fishless ocean.

Will fish farming be the only way to obtain seafood in the future?

And now for the good news: Vermont Legislature passes GMO labeling law, and the governor is expected to sign it.

Finally, a state with courageous politicians.

 

Watering Hole: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 – I Remember

I remember when all vegetables were organic and purchased from the local farmer.  As a matter of fact, when I was a very young child, I remember a farmer driving his truck around the city where I lived and selling his produce right off the back of his truck.  Before supermarkets, our food came from the corner grocery store and with the exception of the Birdseye frozen vegetables and canned vegetables (yuk), it was fresh from the local farmer.  If it was out of season, it wasn’t on the shelf. The corner grocery store was often owned by a butcher.  Our little neighborhood supported three corner butcher/groceries.  The meat was not factory farmed and tasted good.  Once a week, the milkman would stop by very early in the morning and drop off farm fresh milk and eggs.  My mother would put money in an envelope along with a note for her next order and leave it in the insulated milk box.

Then the supermarket chains appeared and gradually put an end to the corner butcher/grocery stores.  This was when factory farming became all the rage and the farmers turned to using pesticides and chemical fertilizers.  The ranchers discovered that feeding steers grain made them get fatter faster which meant a quicker and higher return on their investment.  Along with the grain came an increase in intestinal salmonella growth in the cattle and the contamination of the meat supply.  Cattle are NOT grain eaters.  They are grass eaters and salmonella does not grow freely in a grass fed bovine.  Besides, grass fed beef is high in Omega 3’s whereas grain fed beef is high in Omega 6’s.  That’s a story for another time.

Now, we pay premium prices for organic food which was once the only food that could by purchased at the local grocery.  Has Monsanto won or are we waiting for summer’s bounty from the local farmers?  I am anxiously awaiting the return of the local farmers’ markets.  Now if only I can find room in my small house for my freezer.

This is our Open Thread.  Speak Up!