Tag: stop

Communities can force government action to stop out-of-control wildfires

Every year, more of America’s forests burn. For months now, Americans throughout entire time zones have been inundated with ash and smoke from our woodlands, neighbors’ homes and ecosystems that will take years to recover.

Yet despite this predictable yearly carnage, the solutions our government can and should immediately take are lost among generalizations and talking points. Public officials on both sides of the aisle have lobbed excuses at each other over the “true” cause of these wildfires: “It’s bad forest management!” “No, it’s climate change!”

They are both right and they are both wrong.

Starting in the early 1900s, decades of flawed forest management led to the dangerous over-accumulation of forest fuel (dense forest brush and small trees). Then, in the past few decades, longer and more severe droughts made dangerously fire-prone forests literal tinder boxes where fires burned hotter, moved faster, grew bigger and posed ever-greater risks to forests, homes and lives. Our forests are burning uncontrollably today because of decades of questionable management and changing environmental conditions.

But it doesn’t matter whether it is 30 percent of one cause and 70 percent of the other, or a 50/50 mix of both. Because whatever has led to these conditions, our federal officials are 100 percent responsible for taking every reasonable step available to dramatically reduce fuel loads in our forests and making the land safe for residents, homeowners and wildlife.

This is because federally owned forests dominate our fire-prone landscapes, and Congress bears the largest share of the responsibility to make them safer. But federal legislators have handcuffed forest management staff with red tape and competing (often conflicting) priorities, all the while failing to fund the top priority, which should always be community safety. This has to stop, and Congress has the responsibility to make it so by reforming federal forest management policies to prioritize fuel reduction and make forests healthier.

Prioritizing fuel reduction means exempting fuel removal from the thicket of bureaucracy that impedes it. Things such as lengthy environmental reviews, multiple layers of planning documents, vetoes on fuel reduction by other agencies, ever-looming citizen lawsuits, and inadequate funding for proper forest management all have made the forests more dangerous and less healthy. Cutting and reforming these debilitating policies, and even removing forest fuel reduction from Endangered Species Act regulation (there are few greater risks to endangered wildlife than catastrophic fires), can have real, immediate impact on forest fire danger. 

Unfortunately, these obvious measures depend on Congress taking its responsibilities seriously and accomplishing rapid, bipartisan action. But communities at greatest risk of fire can’t wait while Congress dithers, so they should take matters into their own hands in the federal courts.

Local governments have the power to sue the federal government under public nuisance laws to force the feds to properly maintain overgrown forests threatening cities and towns. Just as a city can take action against delinquent property owners over a rundown property that poses a fire risk to a neighborhood, cities can take action against the

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Congressman asks British government to strip Prince Harry and Meghan Markle of titles if they don’t stop commenting on U.S. election

A Missouri congressman has formally asked the British government to stop the Duke and Duchess of Sussex from interfering in the presidential election.



Meghan Markle, Prince Harry are posing for a picture


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Rep. Jason Smith, a Missouri Republican, sent a letter Friday to the British government arguing that the couple’s comments urging Americans to vote and to “reject hate speech, misinformation, and online negativity” constitute a “serious breach of the British Royal Family’s policy of political neutrality and an inappropriate act of domestic interference by one of our closest allies.”

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“It is my view, the titles and privileges they retain by permission of Her Majesty the Queen, given with the advice and consent of her government, prevent the Duke and Duchess from separating comments made in a personal capacity from their official position within the British Royal Family,” Smith wrote in a letter addressed to Karen Pierce, the British Ambassador to the United States. “By allowing the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to retain their titles, and these political comments to continue, the British Government is effectively condoning interference in the 2020 United States Presidential Election from officials at the highest level of the British establishment.”

Smith closed his letter by requesting that the British government ensure Prince Harry and Meghan Markle “no longer attempt to interfere” in the 2020 election or be “stripped of all titles, styles, and privileges which they currently retain.”

The couple released a video marking the release of the Time 100 list, in which Prince Harry urged Americans to “reject hate speech, misinformation, and online negativity” as the election approaches. Markle called the 2020 election the “most important election of our lifetime.”

The president was asked about the comments at a press briefing in September. He said he was “no fan” of Markle and added, “I wish a lot of luck to Harry because he’s going to need it.”

Piers Morgan, an English broadcaster, called the video “completely unacceptable” and said the comments were “ effectively telling Americans to vote against President Trump.”

Morgan wrote that the royals had “crossed a massive line which should now have serious consequences for the couple who specialize in wanting their royal cake and the freedom to eat it.”

Corey Lewandowski, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, said that the couple had “made Britain great again by leaving” and hopes “they do the same for” the U.S.

The former actress has been heavily involved in “get-out-the vote” campaigns since returning to the U.S. She cold-called voters with activist Gloria Steinem and revealed in a discussion with Steinem that Joe Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate made her “so excited.”

In August, she participated in an event with When All Women Vote, an

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Opinion: If we hope to achieve a more just society, Canadians must stop mythologizing our unequal past

Stephen Dorsey is the principal at The Fractional CMO, a strategic management consultancy based in Toronto, and a community leader writing a book on the societal changes needed to address diversity, inclusion and systemic anti-Black racism.

Since the killing of George Floyd this summer in Minneapolis, there has been a broader reckoning on the depth of systemic, anti-Black racism. For many white Canadians, this has spurred a desire for deeper understanding.

As a Canadian born to Black and white parents, I have a unique perspective on both the Black and white experience in Canada. I grew up in a white family, in white neighbourhoods, and attended schools with only a handful of Black students and people of colour. But even though I was immersed in all aspects of white society, the colour of my skin has defined my racial identity. I am a Black man.

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This summer, I’ve had countless conversations with white friends, neighbours and colleagues, and many have gotten defensive when I’ve brought up white privilege. “I’ve worked hard for everything I have,” some said; “I came from nothing and built my business from the ground up,” others declared.

The chorus of defensiveness is enough to make me realize there’s a communication problem at play.

Part of what we’re talking about with systemic racism is “white advantage”: racially biased institutions and policies that over time have given white Canadians unearned advantages at the expense of non-whites. This can be hard to see, as I experienced first-hand in the early 1990s, when I moved back to my hometown of Montreal to live with my white girlfriend and started looking for an apartment together. Every day, we’d peruse the rental section of the newspaper classifieds, circled places of interest and set up in-person appointments. But when we showed up to meet the landlord, we were told that the apartment in question had just been rented; it took us nearly a dozen rejections before we finally found a hospitable landlord. I was disappointed but not surprised, based on the racism I had faced in my formative years. For my girlfriend, though, it was a shocking revelation that was difficult to process: This was the first time she had encountered racial discrimination by association.

So consider this a useful metaphor for the real-life inequalities Black Canadians face in almost every aspect of their lives, simply as a result of the colour of their skin. Imagine a 100-metre Olympics final. Usain Bolt is still the fastest man in the world, and the field is stacked with seven other world-class racers who happen to be white. But race officials, who have the power to make and change the rules, have unilaterally decided to significantly stagger the start.

Mr. Bolt is set in his blocks at the start line. The rest of the racers are moved up to the 10- to 30-metre lines. Even he wouldn’t be able to overcome the head start given to the other athletes.

It’s part of

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Adoption tour makes stop at Humane Society | Articles

Dogs without homes will be roaming a meadow — on leashes and with handlers — during a weekend adoption event at the Nebraska Humane Society.

Cats that lack humans will be hanging out in the Humane Society’s “kitty camper.”

Fido Friendly Magazine is serving as host for Saturday’s adoption event. It is scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the meadow near the Humane Society, which is near 89th and Fort Streets.

This is the 12th year that the magazine has hosted a cross-country pet adoption tour. The event will include a giant prize wheel.

The idea is to promote adoptions, said Pam Wiese, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society.

Because of the pandemic, the only way to meet animals at the shelter has been by appointment. Appointments have been on a first come, first-served basis.

Saturday’s event will let prospective adopters meet animals without an appointment. Those who do adopt an animal can draw for a discount on the adoption fee. Adoption applications can be filled out in advance at nehumanesociety.org.

The event is free to the public. Human attendees are asked to wear masks.

Things will kick off with a parade of pooches so attendees can learn about the available pups right away. Animals will be rotated out on the meadow during the day.

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Schaumburg Twp. Historical Society’s Historic Bus Tour makes virtual stop

The third annual Historic Bus Tour, sponsored by the Schaumburg Township Historical Society, went virtual in September.

“Did You Know?” is a video collection of seven important sites that features architectural and historic treasures in Schaumburg Township.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

View highlights of the Schweikher House and Studio, Sunderlage House, Merkle Cabin, Volkening Heritage Farm, Old St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Schaumburg Center Schoolhouse, and Heritage Park.

This entertaining and educational tour includes a midcentury modern home, similar to Frank Lloyd Wright-style, listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, plus a two-story historic home, schoolhouse, log cabin, an authentic farmhouse kitchen and more. Discover a new park that celebrates the past.

Go to www.schaumburgtownship.org to start the virtual tour.

For information about the Schaumburg Township Historical Society, and to find an additional Schaumburg Township Illinois Bicentennial self-guided tour and map, visit www.s-t-h-s.org.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

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Under new law, even death can’t stop some Massachusetts voters this election

Of course, how many will have their ballots counted from beyond the veil this November is unclear, as is the number of those who legally voted by mail but died before the state’s Sept. 1 primary, when the new rules also applied.

“There’s a lot of things we haven’t seen before,” Ilene Simons, Salem’s city clerk, said of this year’s unprecedented election season. “I understand the theory behind it: They were alive when they cast their ballot and they really wanted to vote. If I was in that situation and I was able to, I would want to vote in my last election. I get it.”

State lawmakers in July expanded the options amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, passing a bill that allows every registered voter in Massachusetts this fall to cast a ballot by mail, green-lighting early voting for the state primary, and expanding the in-person early voting period for the Nov. 3 general election.

The law also included language, though it received little attention at the time, that barred election officials this year from rejecting an absentee or early ballot “solely because the voter became ineligible to vote by reason by death after casting the ballot.”

Senator Barry R. Finegold, cochairman of the Committee on Election Laws, said lawmakers made the change to provide consistency with the different ways people could vote.

“Let’s say you vote [in person] at 9 a.m. and you drop dead of a heart attack at 10 a.m.,” Finegold said. In that scenario, the vote would still count, he said. “We felt that with [voting by] mail you needed to be consistent, as long as you put your ballot in the mail.”

As many as 11 states have similar laws, including Florida, where every ballot must be counted “even if the elector dies on or before election day,” and Hawaii, which last year changed its law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Many states don’t have statutes addressing the issue, and as of two years ago, at least 17 explicitly rejected such ballots, including Massachusetts, according to the NCSL, which tracks state legislation nationwide.

But while nearly two dozen states have modified their rules to expand mail-in voting during the health crisis, Massachusetts appears to be the only one that amended its law this year to count ballots of those who vote early or absentee but die before Election Day, according to NCSL researchers.

“The fact that in 2020 so much about absentee voting has been brought to the forefront, people are looking at things in detail that they never had reason to look at before,” said Wendy Underhill, director of elections for the NCSL.

Amid the expansion of voting options, election security has consumed national attention as President Trump has spent months railing against mail-in voting, claiming that it’s a magnet for widespread fraud. There has been no evidence that is the case.

Trump in 2016 also wrongly claimed that “people that have died 10 years ago are still voting,” giving

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Federal Judge Orders Stop To Trump Law Enforcement Commission : NPR

Attorney General William Barr speaks during a meeting between President Donald Trump and Republican state attorneys general at the White House on Sept. 23rd.

Evan Vucci/AP


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Attorney General William Barr speaks during a meeting between President Donald Trump and Republican state attorneys general at the White House on Sept. 23rd.

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Updated at 2:37 p.m. ET

A federal judge ordered the Trump administration’s blue-ribbon law enforcement commission on Thursday to cease its work and barred it from releasing a report until a series of legal requirements are met.

The ruling from U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates brings a halt to the work of the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice less than a month before its deadline to deliver a final report.

President Trump signed an executive order creating the commission last year to study the challenges confronting law enforcement and communities. Attorney General William Barr was tasked with putting the commission together and getting it off the ground.

From almost the beginning, civil rights groups expressed concern about the commission, saying its composition and focus was pro-law enforcement and demonstrated a disdain for police reform efforts. One of the commission’s working groups, critics noted, was titled “Respect for Law Enforcement.”

In April, the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund filed a lawsuit against the commission, arguing that it violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act. That law carries a number of requirements for a federal advisory committee, including that it be “fairly balanced” in the viewpoints represented and that it’s meetings be open to the public.

In his 45-page opinion, Bates found that threshold hadn’t been met.

“The commission’s membership consists entirely of current and former law enforcement officials,” he writes. “No commissioner has a criminal defense, civil rights or community organization background.”

The judge also found that the commission’s proceedings have been “far from transparent,” which he says is of particular concern right now.

“Especially in 2020, when racial justice and civil rights issues involving law enforcement have erupted across the nation, one may legitimately question whether it is sound policy to have a group with little diversity of experience examine, behind closed doors, the sensitive issues facing law enforcement and the criminal justice system in America today,” Bates writes.

The Department of Justice declined to comment on Thursday.

Civil rights and reform advocates, however, welcomed the court’s decision.

Miriam Krinsky, the founder and director of Fair and Just Prosecution, called the ruling “a victory for all those who are working towrads building a more fair and just criminal legal system — one grounded in racial equity and that promotes community safety and well-being.”

“Sadly, at a time when trust in law enforcement is at an all time low,” she said, “this commission represents nothing more than a sham proceeding designed to further a political agenda.”

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Boris Johnson’s government looked at building wave machines to stop migrant boats crossing the English Channel



Priti Patel, Boris Johnson looking at a laptop: The UK Home Secretary Priti Patel and Boris Johnson Getty


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The UK Home Secretary Priti Patel and Boris Johnson Getty

  • The UK government considered creating a wave machine in order to stop migrants crossing the English Channel to the UK from France.
  • The Financial Times on Wednesday reported that the Home Office discussed a plan to install boats with pumps generating waves in the Channel.
  • The idea was dismissed due to the risk that they would cause small boats to capsize.
  • The UK is currently experiencing record numbers of people claiming asylum who are crossing the Channel from France, with 7,000 people estimated to have arrived in the UK in small boats this year.
  • Labour’s shadow home secretary said: ‘This is a vile example of how degraded an environment the Tories have created.’
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The UK government has considered plans to build wave machines designed to stop migrants crossing the English Channel from France

The Financial Times on Wednesday reported that the Home Office discussed a plan to instal boats with pumps generating waves in the Channel, before the idea was dismissed due to the risk that they would cause boats to capsize.

Officials also considered whether it might be possible to link a series of small boats together in order to form a physical barrier to deter migrants, the FT reported.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds criticised the mooted plans, tweeting: “This is a vile example of how degraded an environment the Tories have created. The Windrush Review was damning about the inhumane culture they have created at the Home Office. They’ve learned nothing.”

The UK is currently experiencing record numbers of people claiming asylum who are crossing the Channel from France, with 7,000 people estimated to have arrived in the UK in small boats this year, according to PA Media.

Patel in August said the number of crossings was “appalling and unacceptably high” and said she was working to make the route “unviable.”

Multiple reports appearing in Thursday’s newspapers, outline other “blue-sky” plans discussed by her department to deter migrants.

The story began when the Financial Times reported on Tuesday that Patel had asked officials to consider opening an immigration center on Ascension Island, which is in the South Atlantic.

Downing Street on Wednesday did not deny the plans, with a Number 10 spokesman saying: “As part of this work we’ve been looking at what a whole host of other countries do to inform a plan for the United Kingdom.”

A further report in The Times on Thursday claimed that the government is considering processing asylum seekers on disused ferries moored off the UK coast, a plan which a government official confirmed to Politico remains under consideration.

A report in the Mail claimed that the government could alternatively open an immigration facility in the Isle of Wight, the Shetlands, or the Isle of Man.

Allies of Patel suspect that civil servants have leaked details of the plans in order to invite mockery against her following

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