Saturday, October 31, 2020

Trump Administration Delists Gray Wolf from Endangered Species List

Washington, D.C. - October 31, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- “In Eastern Washington, and especially in Northeastern Washington, wolf predation on calves has become common. I regularly hear from people who’ve seen wolves around their property and who cannot defend themselves without risking a felony,” said McMorris Rodgers. “By delisting the gray wolf and restoring local decision-making, we can allow people in our state and community to use science-based wolf management practices that will benefit both our endangered and native animals while protecting farmers and ranchers. As the Obama administration made clear in 2013, the gray wolf is recovered. Unfortunately, the gray wolf was not delisted. Thank you to the Trump administration for respecting local decision-making and delisting this recovered species in the lower 48 states,” stated U.S. Representative Cathy Rodgers McMorris (R-WA, 5th).

More than 45 years after gray wolves were first listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Trump Administration and its many conservation partners are announcing the successful recovery of the gray wolf and its delisting from the ESA. U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt was at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge to announce that state and tribal wildlife management agency professionals will resume responsibility for sustainable management and protection of delisted gray wolves in states with gray wolf populations, while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) monitors the species for five years to ensure the continued success of the species.

The Service based its final determination solely on the best scientific and commercial data available, a thorough analysis of threats and how they have been alleviated and the ongoing commitment and proven track record of states and tribes to continue managing for healthy wolf populations once delisted. This analysis includes the latest information about the wolf’s current and historical distribution in the contiguous United States

“Today’s action reflects the Trump Administration’s continued commitment to species conservation based on the parameters of the law and the best scientific and commercial data available,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “After more than 45 years as a listed species, the gray wolf has exceeded all conservation goals for recovery. Today’s announcement simply reflects the determination that this species is neither a threatened nor endangered species based on the specific factors Congress has laid out in the law.”

In total, the gray wolf population in the lower 48 states is more than 6,000 wolves, greatly exceeding the combined recovery goals for the Northern Rocky Mountains and Western Great Lakes populations.

The gray wolf is the latest in a strong list of ESA recoveries that includes the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, American alligator, brown pelican and 48 other species of animals and plants in U.S. states, territories and waters. Countless more have improved or stabilized. Collectively, these successes demonstrate that the ESA can make a difference for imperiled species.

No administration in history has recovered more imperiled species in their first term than the Trump Administration. Since 2017, thirteen species – and now the gray wolf – have been determined to not be either a threatened species or endangered species under the ESA’s List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, and another seven species have been downlisted from endangered species to threatened species. To provide context for this in looking at other administrations in their first term, the Obama Administration recovered six species; the Bush Administration recovered eight species; and the Clinton Administration recovered nine species.

“President Trump’s Administration has focused on proactive measures, including partnerships with organizations, to ensure listed species flourish to the point of recovery,” said Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Aurelia Skipwith. “Today is a win for the gray wolf and the American people. I am grateful for these partnerships with States and Tribes and their commitment to sustainable management of wolves that will ensure the species long-term survival following this delisting.”

By the early part of the 20th century, the gray wolf had become scarce across almost the entire landscape of the lower 48 states. But, the dedicated efforts of partners that included states, tribes, conservation organizations and private landowners working together under the auspices of the ESA, brought this great predator back to healthy, stable numbers. Gray wolves in the United States exist primarily as two large, genetically diverse, stable to growing populations broadly distributed across several contiguous U.S. States, with an additional large population in Alaska that was never listed.

Gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains, where a healthy and sustainable population roams across Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and eastern portions of Oregon and Washington, were previously delisted. These states have since managed this delisted population effectively and responsibly. Wolves have even expanded into western Oregon, western Washington, northern California and most recently in northwest Colorado.

The Western Great Lakes wolf population in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, the largest outside Alaska, is also strong and stable. These states have been key partners in wolf recovery efforts and have made a commitment to continue their activities. The states of Washington, Oregon, California and Colorado are also committed to conserving wolves, as demonstrated by their development of management plans and laws protecting wolves.

This final rule excludes Mexican wolves as that species remains listed under the ESA. The final rule will be effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

In 2013, the Obama Administration’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that gray wolf recovery goals had been achieved, yet the effort to delist the animal from the ESA was met with politically-motivated attacks and lawsuits by radical environmental groups. Management of gray wolves was transferred from the states to the federal level following two 2014 U.S. District Court decisions that reinstated gray wolves under the protections of the ESA.

The best available scientific and commercial information continued to indicate the gray wolf does not meet the definitions of a threatened or endangered species. With a range-wide population of more than 6,000, gray wolf recovery efforts have exceeded the combined goals for the Northern Rocky Mountains and Western Great Lakes populations. In Washington state alone, there are at least 108 known wolves in 21 known packs, including at least 10 breeding pairs, and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation reported 37 wolves in five packs.

The gray wolf joins the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, American alligator, brown pelican and 33 other species of animals and plants in U.S. states, territories and waters that have been brought back from the brink with the help of the ESA.

On March 15, 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to delist the gray wolf and announced the opening of a 60-day public comment period on the proposed action, ending May 14, 2020. In response to requests, the Service extended the comment period until July 15, 2019, to allow all interested parties additional time to comment on the proposal and to allow for a public hearing. In addition, a final peer review report on the proposal was made available on June 3, 2019.

On May 28, 2019, 35 U.S. Representative wrote a bipartisan letter in support of the proposed rule, urging the Administration to use the best available science to delist the gray wolf. Click here to read the letter.

In the 115th Congress, Rep. Newhouse introduced H.R. 6784, the Manage Our Wolves Act, which passed the House on November 16, 2018. In Washington, the gray wolf is only listed as endangered in two-thirds of the state. The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has publicly supported changing the federal designation in order to fully implement their local management plan. Click here and here to read the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s 2015 and 2018 letters requesting the federal delisting of the gray wolf.

See more information by clicking HERE.

Rice Introduces Bill to Require Election Security Reports for Congress and State Election Officials

(Washington, D.C. - October 31, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice (D-NY, 4th), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, introduced the Election Security Assessments Act (H.R. 8697), which would require the Director of National Intelligence to submit annual reports on pre-election threats to Federal elections to Members of Congress and State election officials.

“Foreign interference in our elections represents one of the gravest threats to American democracy in the history of our nation,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice. “Given what is at stake, it is absurd that Director Ratcliffe and the Trump Administration at large have been tight-lipped and dismissive about these threats. Seemingly for fear of harming the President politically. The Election Security Assessments Act will require that information sharing take place and ensure that Congress and State election officials are not left in the dark about the threats facing our elections.”

Rice’s introduction of the Election Security Assessments Acts comes following Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe’s decision to scale back election security briefings to Congress. These briefings were retrenched despite U.S. intelligence that Russia and other actors are still interfering in the 2020 election.

Full text of the Election Security Assessments Act can be found here.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Mental Illness, Wildlife Tracking, Hunter Biden, Voting, Masks, Jim Crow, Criminal Justice Reform, Google

Report: Public Knowledge Applauds Antitrust Suit Against Google
Source: Public Knowledge
October 20, 2020
The U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google. The suit focuses on how Google has monopolized the search engine market as well as the market for general search advertising. The suit comes after our recent letters urging the Justice Department to review Google’s conduct for anticompetitive behavior in the search and advertising technology markets.

Report: Retail Industry Opposed Criminal Justice Reform in at Least 18 States
Source: Public Citizen
October 16, 2020
Despite the reform rhetoric and pledges many retailers made following protests against racism and police violence, a report released today by Public Citizen shows that retailers and retail industry groups have fought criminal justice reforms and advocated for harsher shoplifting sentences in at least 18 states. Most of the time – in 11 states – the retail industry prevailed against reformers.

Mass Media Ignores Purge of Black Candidates from Tennessee Ballot during Presidential Debate
Source: Public Advocate USA
October 23, 2020
Public Advocate of the United States president Eugene Delgaudio calls on Attorney General William Barr to launch a criminal investigation into Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen and the national Democratic Party as well as Republican operatives who are helping them inflict Jim Crow election rigging against black people in the South.

CDC Issues Mask Recommendation for Public Transportation, Rep. Price Urges Stronger Mandate
Source: U.S. Representative David Price (D-NC, 4th)
October 20, 2020
"I’m glad the CDC is finally 'strongly recommending' passengers and workers wear masks when utilizing public transportation, despite political pressure from the White House to ignore and downplay the COVID-19 threat,” said Chairman Price. “However, I urge the CDC to go a step further. A mandate would ensure even more people adhere to this simple yet effective method to slow the spread of the virus—protecting riders, workers, and the general public. As mentioned in the guidance, local transmission can grow quickly into interstate and international transmission when infected persons travel without wearing a mask and in close proximity to others.”

Citi Bike Miami Offers Free Rides on Election Day
Source: Citi Bike Miami
October 21, 2020
“Voting is a right that defines our country, and we are excited to offer free rides for you to cast your vote. We are going to get you to the polls and back,” said the Citi Bike Miami management team. Each person participating will receive a promo code valid for two free rentals good for 30 minutes each.

Rep. Posey’s Statement Concerning the Discovery of Hunter Biden’s Laptop
Source: U.S. Representative Bill Posey (R-FL, 8th)
October 20, 2020
“Having a mental illness is not a crime, yet it is treated like one time and again,” Congresswoman Porter said. “It is crucial we connect those in crisis with appropriate resources so they can get the care they need. Too often individuals with mental illness and intellectual and developmental disabilities are subject to unnecessary violence and are cycled in and out of our justice system when they’d be much better served by other community resources. This common sense legislation would enable mental health providers to be first on the scene when 911 is called for a mental health emergency, making our communities safer for all.”

Portman, Coons Introduce Legislation to Combat Wildlife Trafficking
Source: Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)
October 22, 2020
“The revelation of information contained on a laptop purportedly belonging to former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden is deeply troubling and raises serious questions about the foreign policy practices of the Obama Administration, and more particularly the practices of then-Vice President Biden.

Reps. Porter, Cárdenas, Pressley, and Scanlon Introduce Bill to Protect Individuals with Mental Illness, Disabilities from Police Violence
Source: U.S. Representative Katie Porter (D-CA, 45th)
October 20, 2020
“Having a mental illness is not a crime, yet it is treated like one time and again,” Congresswoman Porter said. “It is crucial we connect those in crisis with appropriate resources so they can get the care they need. Too often individuals with mental illness and intellectual and developmental disabilities are subject to unnecessary violence and are cycled in and out of our justice system when they’d be much better served by other community resources. This common sense legislation would enable mental health providers to be first on the scene when 911 is called for a mental health emergency, making our communities safer for all.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Barrett Nomination, Oceans, Charities, Civil Rights, COVID Relief, Weather

Norton, Bass Send Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Opposing Vote on Supreme Court Nominee
Source: U.S. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.)
October 20, 2020
Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) commends Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) for introducing the “Ocean Based Climate Solutions Act” today. The bill would authorize federal funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to invest in ocean-based solutions to greenhouse gas emissions and conservation of coastal communities, as well as outline a national policy to protect 30 percent of the ocean by 2030.

Source: Outdoor Industry Association
October 20, 2020
“As chair of the CBC’s Judicial Nominations Task Force, my investigation into Judge Barrett’s writings and record on the Court of Appeals compel me to raise strong objections again to her nomination to the Supreme Court,” Norton said. “Her disregard for precedent endangers hard-won precedents that African Americans disproportionately rely upon, such as the Affordable Care Act.”

Ways and Means Oversight Panel Members Demand Answers on 28,000 Charities Losing Tax-Exempt Status
Source: U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ, 9th)
October 20, 2020
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, led all panel members in demanding answers from U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) sudden revocation of the tax-exempt status of 30,000 nonprofit organizations. This decision imperils charitable organizations aiding Americans struggling through the pandemic.

Source: Open MIC (Open Media and Information Companies Initiative)
October 21, 2020
Advocates designed the principles both in response to the current risks to civil rights – including COVID-19, a surge in hate-based violence, private sector and government surveillance, and disinformation on social media platforms designed to manipulate or suppress voter participation – and with an eye toward how technology can meet its promise and affirmatively promote justice and equity.

Reps. Pallone, Schiff, Bilirakis, Speier and Titus Announce Library of Congress Will Recognize the Armenian Genocide
Source: U.S. Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ, 6th)
October 21, 2020
The decision to change the subject heading by Dr. Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, was announced after bipartisan letters were sent to the Library and a formal request was initiated by the University of California-Los Angeles library. This change comes after both the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation recognizing the facts of the Armenian Genocide in 2019. Dr. Hayden informed the Members in a phone call.

Democrats Continue To Block Additional COVID Relief
Source: Senator David Perdue (R-GA)
October 21, 2020
“It’s absolutely shameful that Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi continue to hold up real relief that could help the American people today,” Senator Perdue. “Once again, the Senate voted on a critical COVID-19 package focused on getting people back to work, getting kids safely back to school, and beating this virus with more resources for PPE, testing, and vaccines. Instead, Democrats are still trying to push their radical, socialist policies to be included, which have nothing to do with COVID-19. We have already secured $2.9 trillion in federal funding directed at helping American workers, businesses, families, hospitals, and communities. In Georgia, we specifically directed over $47 billion to help our state combat this crisis. It is time for the Democrats to stop holding Georgians and the American people hostage and work with us to deliver this much needed relief. As I have done from the start of this pandemic, I will continue fighting every single day to beat this virus and to secure additional assistance to help all of our communities.”

Peters Bipartisan Bill to Predict & Mitigate Space Weather Threats Signed Into Law
Source: Senator Gary Peters (D-MI)
October 21, 2020
A severe space weather event, such as a solar flare or coronal mass ejection, has the potential to seriously disrupt the electric power grid, communications networks including cellular phones and GPS, satellites and aircraft operations. That’s why Peters worked to advance the Promoting Research and Observations of Space Weather to Improve the Forecasting of Tomorrow (PROSWIFT) Act.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Elections, Hunter Biden, Veterans, Suicide Hotline, Private Schools

Today's News from "Other" Sources

Two key Texas counties — Democratic stronghold Harris and traditionally red Denton — are setting early voting records
Source: The Texas Tribune
October 19, 2020
As of Friday, 27% of registered voters in Denton County had cast their ballots in the 2020 election — surpassing the county’s 2016 turnout of 18% on the fourth day.

Leftists blast Trump over viral video showing him give money at church: 'Cheap bastard'
Source: The Blaze
October 19, 2020
President Donald Trump was excoriated on social media Sunday after a viral video showed him placing a wad of $20 dollar bills into the collection bucket at a Las Vegas church.

Ratcliffe says Hunter Biden laptop, emails 'not part of some Russian disinformation campaign'
Source: FOX News
October 19, 2020
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Monday said that Hunter Biden’s laptop “is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign,” amid claims from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff suggesting otherwise.

Today's News from "OUR" Sources

President Trump Signs Sen. Moran’s Groundbreaking Veterans Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Bill into Law
Source:Senator Jerry Moran- (R - KS)
October 18, 2020
“Many of our veterans are suffering from daunting, sometimes overwhelming mental health challenges, that have only been made worse by this pandemic, and lack access to modern, effective and compassionate mental health care and suicide prevention services,” said Chairman Moran. “Today, President Trump signed into law the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act that will reform mental health care at the VA by hiring and training more professionals in this field, developing innovative methods to reach veterans with care, and establishing a grant program to better collaborate with community organizations across the country already serving veterans. This is a significant day for veterans, and I am grateful to Ranking Member Jon Tester, President Trump and many of my colleagues for working tirelessly this Congress to get this landmark bill signed into law and improve suicide prevention research, services and programs for our nation’s veterans.”

Source: U.S. Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA, 6th)
October 17, 2020
The bill will unite the nation’s suicide prevention and mental health hotlines under three digits: 9-8-8. Americans with questions or concerns about their mental health or the mental health of a loved one will be able to dial 9-8-8 and get help within the next two years.

Private Schools Not to Receive Cares Act Funding
Source: National School Boards Association
October 8, 2020
“NSBA commends the South Carolina Supreme Court for ruling in accordance with the amicus brief the association filed in this case. The South Carolina Supreme Court found, as we highlighted in our argument, that funneling public CARES Act aid to private schools is unlawful. Furthermore, we are extremely pleased that during oral argument Justice Kaye Hearn identified NSBA as having drawn the Court’s attention to recent federal court rulings rejecting the U.S. Department of Education’s misinterpretation of the CARES Act’s intent.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Childhood Trauma, Free Lunch, Congressional Pay Raises, Pelosi, F-35 Jets

Reps. Maloney and Pressley to Introduce Bold Legislation to Address Growing Childhood Trauma Crisis
Source: U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY, 12th)
October 8, 2020
“Childhood trauma and insecurity is a public health crisis in this country,” said Chairwoman Maloney. “Congress must pass the Children’s Protection Act and the STONG Support for Children Act to ensure that the federal government prioritizes the health and wellbeing of our children and is a partner in breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma fueled by race and class discrimination. Every child deserves to grow up feeling safe and supported with the tools they need to create their best future, and federal actions should never undermine this bedrock value. I’m proud to continue the work of the late Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, who held the first ever Congressional hearings on childhood trauma.”

McAdams backs measure for greater accountability, restoring trust in Congress
Source: U.S. Representative Ben McAdams (D-UT, 4th)
October 8, 2020
“This bill creates a number of reforms to improve trust in and accountability of Congress. It includes items I have been fighting for, such as stopping automatic pay raises for members of Congress and requiring ‘no budget, no pay’, meaning that Congress must do its job passing a budget or they don't get paid,” said Congressman McAdams.

Source: U.S. Representative Roger Marshall (R-KS, 1st)
October 9, 2020
“The USDA has taken the lead on ensuring that our nation’s children have access to warm, nutritional meals, no matter their schooling situation or the family’s ability to pay,” said U.S. Congressman Roger Marshall, M.D. “As a father, grandfather and physician, I am committed to ensuring that our children, especially those unable to return to the classroom, are provided access to school lunches and provided an opportunity for access to at least one hot meal each day. Since the start of this pandemic, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has ensured that the USDA and its meal programs were responding to the needs of the schools and communities that it serves, and I applaud this next step in maintaining nutritional support for our most vulnerable.”

Pelosi's Stalling Will Hurt Americans – That's Wrong
Source: U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA, 23rd)
October 9, 2020
“Remember, we’ve done four separate COVID relief bills – I have been an integral part of all of them. Every time we’ve done this there’s been one common denominator that’s slowed the process down – Speaker Pelosi.

Menendez, Reed on National Security Implications of Trump Administration’s Rushed Sale of F-35 Jets to UAE
Source: Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
October 9, 2020
“There are numerous questions as to how the national security interests of both the U.S. and Israel will be served, or undermined, by such a sale. We fear that the Trump Administration’s recklessly accelerated timeline will preclude sufficient and comprehensive consideration of these issues by the national security professionals in the Departments of State and Defense, as well as by the Congress.” wrote the Senators in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. “U.S. national security and the safety of American troops could be seriously compromised by this sale. The F-35 is one of the most advanced aircraft in the world, giving the United States and its allies and partners a tremendous military advantage. This therefore creates an immense counterintelligence threat against this aircraft. ”

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Sen. Lee Responds to Netflix Defense of “Shameful” Movie Promotion

Washington, D.C. - October 6, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) issued the following statement Monday after reading Netflix’s response to an earlier letter Sen. Lee sent Netflix about the movie Cuties.

“Just over three weeks ago, I joined a chorus of concerned Americans in expressing our outrage and disgust at the film, Cuties, distributed by Netflix. I wrote to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to share these concerns and request that Netflix explain whether or not the potential exploitation of young girls depicted in the film violated federal law. I later discussed my concerns in more detail with Netflix employees by phone. I have to say that I am unsatisfied by Netflix’s response.

“Asked whether the sexualization of young girls depicted in Cuties constituted criminal conduct, Netflix offered only conclusory statements in denial. I am not convinced.

“But setting aside the legal question, there is a more pressing moral question. Netflix itself acknowledges that the conduct of the young girls in Cuties “is inappropriate, shameful, and a hallmark of a cultural failing.” I couldn’t agree more. What I cannot understand, however, is how Netflix can condemn the conduct depicted in Cuties, while celebrating the film and filmmakers who asked several underage girls to stand in front of a camera and engage in that same “inappropriate, shameful” conduct for all the world to see.

“I reiterate my call for Netflix to cease distributing Cuties. Until it does so, Netflix lacks the moral standing to speak to any cultural issue.”

You can read Sen. Lee’s letter to Netflix here.

You can read Netflix’s response here.