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Republicans in Congress Set Value of All Public Lands and Buildings to $0 for Easy Sell Off at Taxpayers’ Expense

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Change Could Ultimately Benefit Energy Companies, Forever Destroying America’s Vast Wilderness

The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a rules change this past week by a vote of 234 to 193, that would allow Congress the ability to essentially give away federal lands and buildings for free. The new rule, authored by GOP Rep. Robert Bishop of Utah, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, codifies that any legislation to dispose of federal land and natural resources would have a net sum zero cost to taxpayers. As the rule applies only to the House legislative rules, it is not subject to approval by the Senate or a presidential signature and is effective immediately.

All Democrats in the House voted against the measure, while only three Republicans joined them in opposing it, USA TODAY reports. The Wilderness Society said “this move paves the way for a wholesale giveaway of our American hunting, fishing and camping lands that belong to us all. Make no mistake, the giveaway is for the benefit of the drilling and mining interests that have a lock-grip on Congress and the rest of Washington.”

Since the House is required to account for any cost associated with any legislation it considers under Congressional Budget Office accounting rules and guidelines, legislation put forward now shall skip several steps in the normal legislative process, coming up for a vote without any discussion of the costs and benefits. This means that the House does not need to render an assessment or cost analysis of estimated financial losses resulting in legislation giving away public lands or buildings.

A Democratic Congressional source on Capitol Hill told NCRM Friday that this procedural rules shortcut will apply equally to all types of public land. 

“For example, the national parks like Yosemite – even federal buildings and facilities in Washington like the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover headquarters building, could all be given away without consideration of the cost to American taxpayers.”  

‘Plan to Give Away America’s Public Lands for Free Is Outrageous and Absurd’ Says Democratic Congressman

In an statement to NCRM via email Arizona Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona castigated House GOP leadership over the rules change. 

“The House Republican plan to give away America’s public lands for free is outrageous and absurd. This proposed rule change would make it easier to implement this plan by allowing the Congress to give away every single piece of property we own, for free, and pretend we have lost nothing of any value. Not only is this fiscally irresponsible, but it is also a flagrant attack on places and resources valued and beloved by the American people,” Grijalva said. 

Federal stewardship over public lands has long been a contentious issue with Congressional Republicans and particularly with Tea Party and House Freedom Caucus members from the Western states. But in the case of Rep. Bishop, he has waged an incessant campaign to divest federal ownership of Western lands, in particular urging President-elect Donald Trump to abolish national monuments designated by President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton. More than 270 million acres of American land and waters are potentially at risk—an area two and a half times the size of California.

This latest maneuver by Bishop with the House rules change was met with sharp criticism from conservation and watchdog groups. One group told NCRM that the impetus for Bishop’s zeal to unload federal property could be traced to his contributors.

According to the advocacy and activist group Oil Change International which tracks campaign contribution monies from fossil fuel corporations and the coal industry via the group’s Dirty Energy Money web project, since 1999 Congressman Bishop has accepted campaign funds and contributions of more than $452,610 dollars from oil, gas and coal interests. Figures collected by Oil Change International show that greater than ten percent of that figure has come from the coal-friendly National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, which has led the fight against the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. Oil giants Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, and Tesoro are also listed among Bishop’s top campaign contributors.

Recent polling by the Denver, Colorado, based Center for Western Priorities showed that over seventy-five percent of registered voters in the states of Nevada, Colorado, and Montana believe public lands are an essential part of their respective state’s economies. Additionally, the Congressional watchdog agency, the Government Accountability Office, which is responsible for monitoring of the federal budget, found that leases for oil and gas drilling on public lands are one of the U.S. government’s largest sources of non-tax based revenues.

Congressional Republicans Accused of ‘Greasing the Skids’ and ‘Using Smoke and Mirrors to Hide the Cost of Stealing Away Our Public Lands’

In a statement released Tuesday after the House rules change vote by the Center for Western Priorities, which calls itself a “nonpartisan conservation and advocacy organization,” the organisation’s Executive Director Jennifer Rokala noted: 

“Less than one day in and Congressional Republicans are already greasing the skids to give away or sell off America’s public lands, forests, and wildlife refuges. What’s worse, politicians are using smoke and mirrors to hide the cost of stealing away our public lands, while ripping off American taxpayers in the process.”

She added, “President-elect Donald Trump and his nominee to run the Interior Department, Montana Representative Ryan Zinke, have disavowed attempts to seize our public lands. This is their first chance to show how serious they are by standing up to attacks on our parks and public lands in the U.S. House of Representatives.” 

During his presidential campaign, Trump was a vocal opponent of selling off federal lands. His Interior Secretary nominee, GOP Congressman Ryan Zinke, who serves as U.S. Representative for Montana’s at-large congressional district, has also publicly stated his opposition to efforts to dispose of public lands. During the GOP platform writing committee sessions last summer he resigned after the Republican Party platform included language that would support disposal of federal lands. He did however vote in favor of House Resolution 5 for the Rules Change on Tuesday. A spokesperson for Zinke told NCRM Friday that any statement regarding a change in his position regarding Bishop’s rule would be premature until further review and after his confirmation process as Interior Secretary.

Randi Spivak, public lands director with the Center for Biological Diversity remarked, “In Rob Bishop’s world, land owned by all Americans should be taken over by those who see them as nothing but a source of profit for drilling, mining and logging. Fortunately there are laws that protect places like national monuments—Rep. Bishop apparently doesn’t understand them or doesn’t think they should apply to his ideology.”

“If Rob Bishop has his way, where would it stop? Taking Yellowstone and Yosemite off the list of national parks?,” asked Spivak.

To contact your Congressman visit the House website or call the Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121. 
Rep. Bishop is on Facebook.

 

Brody Levesque is the Chief Political Correspondent for The New Civil Rights Movement.
You may contact Brody at Brody.Levesque@thenewcivilrightsmovement.com 

To comment on this article and other NCRM content, visit our Facebook page.

Image by USCapitol via Flickr 

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CRIME

Who Is the Highland Park July 4th Mass Shooting Person of Interest? ‘Obsession With Mass Death and Nihilism’

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The person police are describing as a “person of interest” in the Highland Park, Illinois Independence Day mass shooting that left six parade watchers dead and 38 injured has been apprehended.

Robert “Bobby” Crimo goes by the name of “Awake the Rapper” on social media. According to The Daily Beast, he is “an amateur rapper who posted disturbing videos on his YouTube channel, including a crude animation depicting a heavily armed shooter being killed by police.”

Crimo, a 22-year-old white man, “is a video-game enthusiast and professional wrestling fan. One photo posted to Twitter showed him wearing a Trump flag like a cape; in another he sported an FBI cap. But the same account also liked a video of President Biden.”

USA Today reports Crimo has been arrested in connection with the mass shooting. There are no reports he has been charged, and it’s too early to determine his political beliefs, if any. NCRM has not verified any of the photos in this report.

An FBI wanted poster published by Fox News says Crimo “has the following tattoos: four tally marks with a line through them on his right cheek, red roses and green leaves on his neck, and cursive script above his left eyebrow.”

NBC News senior reporter Ben Collins, who describes his work as covering the “dystopia beat,” writes: “The most important thing to know about Crimo’s online identity is his obsession with mass death and nihilism.”

In an NBC News article, Collins adds Crimo “left a long trail of tributes to mass shootings and public killings on social media platforms, according to numerous profiles that appear to belong to him.”

“Crimo didn’t frequently post about major political figures on his websites, except for two posts about former President Donald Trump,” Collins adds.

A video posted to Crimo’s YouTube page on Jan. 2, 2021, appears to show Crimo among a throng of protesters cheering for Trump’s presidential motorcade outside an airport. Crimo flips the phone’s orientation to reveal his face at the end of the video.

Crimo is also seen draped in a Trump flag in a June 27, 2021, post on Twitter. The post is captioned with only the word “spam.”

Sawyer Hackett, a senior advisor to former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, posted these images that have been flooding social media, allegedly of Crimo.

Investigative journalist Steven Monacelli, who writes about extremism, warns about jumping to conclusions, but adds these photos he says are of Crimo and says he “does appear to have been active in some right wing political events.”

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

GOP Nominee for Illinois Governor Offers Prayers Then Quickly Dismisses July 4 Mass Shooting: ‘Let’s Move On’

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Darren Bailey, the GOP nominee to become governor of Illinois, quickly dismissed the Independence Day mass shooting in Highland Park that left six people dead and dozens hospitalized.

In a poor-quality Facebook live video Bailey, a far-right Illinois state lawmaker stands with a group of supporters holding campaign signs and says, “20 minutes away from here in Highland Park there was a shooting, there were several people that we know have been shot, that’s all we know, and we’re just going to take a moment and pray for the families [inaudible] pray for the law enforcement and even the organizers of this parade.”

He says canceling the parade after the shooting started was ‘the right thing because people’s safety has got to come first.” He offers no mention of guns or gun control or gun safety measures.

“The shooter is still at large so let’s pray for justice to prevail, and then let’s move on and let’s celebrate the independence of this nation. We know the mission. We have got to get corruption and evil out of our government.”

On Facebook Bailey writes:

Please pray for the families affected by the shooting in Highland Park!
Skokie Parade has been canceled.
Demand law and order!
Invest in mental health!!
Pray for Law Enforcement!!!
Let Freedom Ring!!!

Watch video below or at this link:

 

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BREAKING NEWS

President Biden: ‘Jill and I Are Shocked by the Senseless Gun Violence’ at Highland Park July 4th Mass Shooting

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President Joe Biden quickly issued a statement expressing his “shock” over the mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois that has left six people dead and over 30 people hospitalized.

“Jill and I are shocked by the senseless gun violence that has yet again brought grief to an American community on this Independence Day,” the President says in his statement. “As always, we are grateful for the first responders and law enforcement on the scene. I have spoken to Governor Pritzker and Mayor Rotering, and have offered the full support of the Federal government to their communities.”

“I also surged Federal law enforcement to assist in the urgent search for the shooter, who remains at large at this time. Members of the community should follow guidance from leadership on the ground, and I will monitor closely as we learn more about those whose lives have been lost and pray for those who are in the hospital with grievous injuries.”

President Biden notes that he “recently signed the first major bipartisan gun reform legislation in almost thirty years into law, which includes actions that will save lives. But there is much more work to do, and I’m not going to give up fighting the epidemic of gun violence.”

The President and the First Lady are expected to speak around 5 PM Monday to deliver Independence Day remarks during their barbecue at the White House with veterans.

News reports state the shooter, who has not been apprehended, is believed to be a white man, 18-20 years old, armed with a high-powered rifle.

RELATED: Biden Blasts ‘Outrageous’ US Supreme Court – Calls to Change Filibuster to Codify Roe and Privacy Into Law

Many on social media are criticizing the NRA, which posted a tweet tying guns to Independence Day barely hours before the mass shooting began. It reads: “The only reason you’re celebrating Independence Day is because citizens were armed.”

There were many police officers at the Highland Park parade, yet the shooter was able to inflict great loss of life, a massive number of wounded victims, and massive terror. Nearby towns canceled their Fourth of July celebrations in response.

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