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Browsing the blog archives for June, 2014.

Oyster farmers battle for survival in Yorktown

Agriculture, Federal gov & land grabs, Over-regulations

Natural News.com

(NaturalNews) Yorktown, Virginia, where George Washington’s decisive victory won American independence from the British, is the scene of the latest skirmish over property and farming rights. Eighty neighborhoods historically zoned agriculturally are being reviewed for rezoning at the behest of a small group of residents who don’t approve of a couple of home-based oyster farms. On Wednesday, May 14, over 100 property rights and local foods activists staged a Pitchfork Protest at the York County Planning Commission.

Greg Garrett and Anthony Bavuso are the two oyster farm owners whose livelihoods are threatened by the controversy. Both are now members of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF), which is working to support the two farms and defend their rights. The FTCLDF’s mission is to preserve access to locally produced, nutrient-dense foods.

Both Garrett and Bavuso, and some of their nearest neighbors, claim that their small-scale farms have a minimal impact on the neighborhood. They also contend that the oysters are cleaning the bay and are thus an ecological plus for the community.

Oysters contain powerful nutrition; they are full of vitamins A, B, C and D, protein and zinc. Zinc is an important mineral found most abundantly in oysters. Nutrition scientist Chris Masterjohn said, “Vitamins A, D, and K2 interact synergistically to support immune health, provide for adequate growth, support strong bones and teeth, and protect soft tissues from calcification. … [V]itamins A and D can only fulfill their functions in the presence of adequate zinc.”

Interestingly, the neighbors most interested in having these oysters as a regular part of their diet are strong supporters of Bavuso and Garrett.

At the Planning Commission meeting, 23 people testified in support of the farms and against the county officials’ attempt to prohibit them; 16 testified against the farms and in favor of the proposed zoning change. “This is the first of several meetings, and we feel confident that more people who would be negatively affected by rezoning will come out and express their opposition,” said Garrett.

As home-based businesses and home churches become more popular, zoning officials are increasingly using the tool of special-use permits to appease the not-in-my-neighborhood crowd. A recent article in USA Today described the use of special-use permits to give neighbors a chance to hold sway over the use of homes in their neighborhood as short-term vacation rentals. And Virginia’s most populous county is currently considering rules to restrict gatherings in private homes.

Virginia is a Right-to-Farm state with laws on the books which prevent cities and counties from requiring special-use permits in agricultural districts. The state legislature recently sided by overwhelming margins with the oyster farms of York County by clarifying the law to include aquaculture. The revised law goes into effect January 1, 2015.

That hasn’t deterred the county officials. The downzoning of York County to residential use only would mean that the oyster farms would have to go.

To support the oyster farms of York County, please sign this Protect Our Property Rights petition and donate to the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

http://www.naturalnews.com/045718_oyster_farmers_property_rights_rezoning.html

 

 

Kimberly Hartke is a publicist for the nutrition education non-profit Weston A. Price Foundation.

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Whistleblower alleges VA improperly purged benefit applications

CORRUPTION, Veterans & soldiers

Federal investigators are probing a whistleblower’s claims that applications for veterans seeking health care benefits may have been improperly purged from the VA’s Health Eligibility Center in suburban Atlanta.

Eligibility Center program specialist Scott Davis tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution health benefit applications for more than 10,000 veterans may have been improperly purged from the Health Eligibility Center’s national data system in DeKalb County.

Davis began filing complaints in January and said managers were focused on meeting goals linked to the Affordable Care Act to meet their bonus targets. He also asked the VA office of the Inspector General to investigate potential fraud involving government contracts.

Local VA spokeswoman Floretta Hardmon says the organization takes the allegations seriously and officials are cooperating with investigators.

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Supreme Court rules against unions in home health care worker case

Federal gov & land grabs

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Supreme Court backs Hobby Lobby in contraceptive mandate challenge

Federal gov & land grabs, Lawsuits

PNP comment: We are thankful for this important ruling. — Editor Liz Bowen

 

 

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that certain “closely held” for-profit businesses can cite religious objections in order to opt out of a requirement in ObamaCare to provide free contraceptive coverage for their employees.

The 5-4 decision, in favor of arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby and one other company, marks the first time the court has ruled that for-profit businesses can cite religious views under federal law. It also is a blow to a provision of the Affordable Care Act which President Obama’s supporters touted heavily during the 2012 presidential campaign.

“Today is a great day for religious liberty,” Adele Keim, counsel at The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty which represented Hobby Lobby, told Fox News.

The ruling was one of two final rulings to come down on Monday, as the justices wrapped up their work for the session. The other reined in the ability of unions to collect dues from home health care workers.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion in the ObamaCare case, finding the contraceptive mandate in its current form “unlawful.” The court’s four liberal justices dissented.

The Obama administration, two years ago, already negotiated with religious-based schools, hospitals and other non-profits to reach an accommodation on the issue of contraception coverage. In the wake of Monday’s ruling, the question now before the administration is how it might try to accommodate for-profit businesses that claim religious objections while also extending contraceptive coverage to female workers.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday afternoon that the decision “jeopardizes the health of women who are employed by these companies,” but said the administration would respect the ruling.

“We will work with Congress to make sure that any women affected by this decision will still have the same coverage of vital health services as everyone else,” he said. Earnest did not get into specifics, saying they are still assessing the decision and trying to determine which companies are affected.

Alito suggested two ways the administration could ensure women get the contraception they want. It could pay for pregnancy prevention, he said. Or it could provide the same kind of accommodation made available to non-profits — by letting the groups’ insurers or a third-party administrator take on the responsibility of paying for the birth control.

The court stressed that its ruling applies only to corporations that are under the control of just a few people in which there is no essential difference between the business and its owners.

But Alito held that in the case before the court, the religious objections cited were legally legitimate, under a law that bars the government from taking action in certain cases that “substantially burdens” freedom of religion. He noted that fines for one company could total $475 million per year if they did not comply with the ObamaCare rule.

“If these consequences do not amount to a substantial burden, it is hard to see what would,” Alito wrote.

The Supreme Court challenge was brought by Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby and a furniture maker in Pennsylvania, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. The for-profit businesses challenged the requirement in the Affordable Care Act that employers cover contraception for women at no extra charge among a range of preventive benefits in employee health plans.

It was the first major challenge to ObamaCare to come before the court since the justices upheld the law’s individual requirement to buy health insurance two years ago.

Dozens of companies, including Hobby Lobby, claim religious objections to covering some or all contraceptives. The methods and devices at issue before the Supreme Court were those the plaintiffs say can work after conception. They are the emergency contraceptives Plan B and ella, as well as intrauterine devices, which can cost up to $1,000.

The court had never before recognized a for-profit corporation’s religious rights under federal law or the Constitution. The companies in this case, and their backers, argued that a 1993 federal law on religious freedom extends to businesses.

The Obama administration had argued that a victory for the companies would prevent women who work for them from making decisions about birth control based on what’s best for their health, not whether they can afford it.

Democratic leaders blasted the court’s decision on Monday, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tweeting: “It’s time that five men on the Supreme Court stop deciding what happens to women.”

In a dissent she read aloud from the bench, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the decision “potentially sweeping” because it minimizes the government’s interest in uniform compliance with laws affecting the workplace. “And it discounts the disadvantages religion-based opt outs impose on others, in particular, employees who do not share their employer’s religious beliefs,” Ginsburg said.

The Obama administration argued earlier this year that the case is not just about birth control, and that a Supreme Court ruling in favor of the businesses could undermine laws governing immunizations, Social Security taxes and minimum wages.

Alito clarified that the decision Monday is limited to contraceptives under the health care law. “Our decision should not be understood to hold that an insurance-coverage mandate must necessarily fall if it conflicts with an employer’s religious beliefs,” Alito said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/06/30/supreme-court-hobby-lobby/

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Battle between Utah’s rural counties and BLM intensifies

Bureau of Land Management, Federal gov & land grabs, State gov

Published: Saturday, June 28 2014

Ongoing tension between multiple rural counties in Utah and the Bureau of Land Management’s law enforcement division has erupted into another public fight. This time, commissioners pleaded their case against the agency in Washington, D.C.

SALT LAKE CITY — When Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins sat down in a conference room with the national director of the Bureau of Land Management’s law enforcement operations, he had a series of numbers in his head.

He was face to face with Sal Lauro, a Washington, D.C., decision-maker who could make life somewhat easier back home in Garfield County, or keep it strained.

The numbers were plain: $70,000, 464, and zero.

“Since the first of July 2013 to the end of April 2014, I have spent $70,000 on helicopter time from the Department of Public Safety, 464 hours of actual boot time on the ground with officers on search and rescue operations on the (Grand Staircase-Escalante National) monument and I have been assisted absolutely nothing, zero, from the BLM.”

Perkins accompanied six county commissioners from Iron, Beaver and Garfield counties to Washington, D.C., for a series of meetings last week to air complaints — chief among them the fractured and abysmal experience rural Utah has with top law enforcement officials from the Bureau of Land Management.

“We have absolutely no relationship with the BLM. We have tried; they seem to want to do their own thing,” Perkins said. “They do not respect the authority of the sheriff at all. It is hard for them to accept that this sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer in this county.”

Accusations abound

The meeting in Washington happened the same day members of the Utah natural resources legislative interim committee hosted a public roundtable discussion in Salt Lake City with Juan Palma, director of the Utah BLM, and Kevin Rice, special agent in charge with the U.S. Forest Service in Salt Lake City, among others.

BLM spokeswoman Megan Crandall said the legislative hearing did nothing to improve relationships.

“The only way to resolve this issue is to have serious dialogue and productive discussions and those two items were not present at that meeting,” she said. “It was not the appropriate forum for how we are going to drive home a solution that is positive for everyone involved.”

In the aftermath of embattled Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s showdown with the BLM in April, in the devolution of county law enforcement contracts with the BLM in Utah that were not renewed, rural counties are wary, frustrated, defiant and angry.

“We have many examples of the abuse and this militarization of the government agencies is a real problem,” said Garfield County Commissioner Leland Pollock, who also traveled to Washington, D.C. “If this guy does something that blows up, we are all going to be on the TV. It is a scary scenario, especially in rural Utah.”

The “this guy” Pollock is referring to is BLM’s special agent in charge Dan Love, who commissioners accuse of spreading a culture of dismissiveness and arrogance among his coworkers. Pollock said county commissioners want Lauro to step in and find a solution.

“He has created a situation where they thumb their noses at us,” Pollock said. “This starts at the top.”

Defending the BLM

At the legislative hearing, Palma, the Utah BLM director, noted that Love answers to Washington, D.C. officials and is carrying out rules he didn’t write. Palma defended Love as performing his job.

Love did not comment directly on the allegations regarding his working relationship with local sheriff’s agencies, but offered this statement:

“Working together is the only way to navigate current issues and meet future law enforcement challenges, and I look forward to having the serious, productive discussions necessary to make that a reality.”

More:

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865605994/Battle-between-Utahs-rural-counties-and-BLM-intensifies.html

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Election-year fears slow Senate work to a halt

Elections, Federal gov & land grabs

A fear of voting has gripped Democratic leaders in the Senate, slowing the chamber’s modest productivity this election season to a near halt.

With control of the Senate at risk in November, leaders are going to remarkable lengths to protect endangered Democrats from casting tough votes and to deny Republicans legislative victories in the midst of the campaign. The phobia means even bipartisan legislation to boost energy efficiency, manufacturing, sportsmen’s rights and more could be scuttled.

The Senate’s masters of process are finding a variety of ways to shut down debate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., now is requiring an elusive 60-vote supermajority to deal with amendments to spending bills, instead of the usual simple majority, a step that makes it much more difficult to put politically sensitive matters into contention. This was a flip from his approach to Obama administration nominees, when he decided most could be moved ahead with a straight majority instead of the 60 votes needed before.

Reid’s principal aim in setting the supermajority rule for spending amendments was to deny archrival Sen. Mitch McConnell a win on protecting his home state coal industry from new regulations limiting carbon emissions from existing power plants. McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, faces a tough re-election in Kentucky.

This hunkering down by Democrats is at odds with the once-vibrant tradition of advancing the 12 annual agency budget bills through open debate. In the Appropriations Committee, long accustomed to a freewheeling process, chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., has held up action on three spending bills, apparently to head off politically difficult votes on changes to the divisive health care law as well as potential losses to Republicans on amendments such as McConnell’s on the coal industry.

“I just don’t think they want their members to have to take any hard votes between now and November,” said Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb. And there’s “just no question that they’re worried we’re going to win some votes so they just shut us down.”

Vote-a-phobia worsens in election years, especially when the majority party is in jeopardy. Republicans need to gain six seats to win control and Democrats must defend 21 seats to the Republicans’ 15.

So Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, probably shouldn’t have been surprised when his cherished bill to fund the Labor, Education and Health and Human Services departments got yanked from the Appropriations Committee’s agenda this month. Word quickly spread that committee Democrats in Republican-leaning states feared a flurry of votes related to “Obamacare.”

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/06/29/election-year-fears-slow-senate-work-to-halt/?intcmp=latestnews

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EPA spends $1.6 million on hotel for ‘Environmental Justice’ conference

Federal gov & land grabs

The Environmental Protection Agency will spend more than $1 million on hotel accommodations for an “Environmental Justice” conference this fall.

The agency posted its intention to contract with the Renaissance Arlington Local Capital View Hotel for its upcoming public meeting, for which it will need to book 195 rooms for 24 days.

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), Office of Enforcement and Compliance, Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) intends to award a fixed-price Purchase Order … to the Renaissance Arlington Local Capital View Hotel,” the solicitation said. “The purpose of this acquisition is to cover the cost of 195 sleeping room nights from Sept. 9 [to] Oct 2, 2014, at government rate for the 50th public meeting of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), a federal advisory committee of the EPA.”

Rooms at the Renaissance Arlington run for roughly $349 a night. At 24 nights, the cost of 195 rooms will reach $1,633,320, or $8,376 per room.

The government per diem rate for lodging is $219 for September. If the EPA receives the per diem rate, the cost will come to $1,024,920 for the duration of their stay.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/06/29/epa-spends-16-million-on-hotel-for-environmental-justice-conference/?intcmp=latestnews

The NEJAC was established in 1993 to “obtain independent, consensus advice and recommendations from a broad spectrum of stakeholders involved in environmental justice.”

Click for more from The Washington Free Beacon.

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Ric Frost on radio Sunday at 8 a.m.

Agenda 21 & Sustainable, Radio shows

Tomorrow am radio show with Erin. Great guest Ric Frost will be discussing wildlands project, nature conservancy, and use of conservation easements by government to foster connecting links in Wildlands project.

When: Sunday, June 29, 2014

8:00 AM-10:00 AM  Pacific Time

Where: AM 1460 Redding

Listen online at http://www.teapartymedia.net/

Call In # 530-605-4567

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Mark Baird writes letter to DWR

Mark Baird, Over-regulations, Water rights

PNP comment: Mark Baird, vice president of Scott Valley Protect Our Water, has written a letter to the CA. Dept. of Water Resources regarding its new regulations where Water Right holders must report their water use — and report it on a computer. Others who believe the same as Mark, which is that DWR already has the Water Right allotments documented and maps of diversions within their agency, are encouraged to utilize this letter. The demand for Water Right holders to report how much water they use is redundant. And it is legal and ethical for Water Right holders to utilize their maximum amount of water allotment, if it is there to be used and they need to use it. — Editor Liz Bowen

 

Department of Water Resources
P.O. Box 2000
Sacramento CA 95812 6/27/14

Mark Baird
P.O. Box 842
Fort Jones CA 96032

Dear Sir,

I am unable to complete the computerized flow report you request of Owners of Water Rights. I do not possess the computer training which would be required to do so.

Please consider this my report of the flow of our water right. Our use is the maximum we are allowed under our appropriative water right, dated April of 1859. We are using, and intend to continue to use the full flow we are allowed under this right.
Our diversion is Diversion 11. DWR maps, referred to as part of the Upper Mill Group, Siskiyou County California.

Thank You,

Mark Baird

cc Senator Jim Nielsen
Assemblyman Brian Dahle
Congressman Doug LaMalfa
Senator Ted Gaines
Sheriff Jon Lopey

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More info on the investigation into the Veteran’s Administration

Veterans & soldiers

Committee Spotlight

Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL)
Veterans’ Affairs Committee
________________________________________
During the week of June 23, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held two oversight hearings related to VA’s delays in care crisis. In this week’s Committee Spotlight, Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) provides a recap of the hearings and key clips of witness testimony.

Watch the full video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDSBQXWg9qY&feature=youtu.be

Please also see below Read Outs from the Hearings:

HVAC Examines VA’s Response to Delays in Care Crisis

The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing June 23 to examine VA’s response to its current delays in care crisis as well as the department’s overall capacity to provide timely, accessible and quality health care to eligible veteran patients.
Although VA has had the authority to send veterans to private health care providers for years, the recent deaths of at least 23 veterans have been linked to delayed VA care[1] and at least 35 Phoenix-area veterans have died while awaiting VA care.[2]
As part of its new effort to provide timelier access to care and prevent similar tragedies from occurring, VA recently announced the Accelerating Access to Care Initiative. The hearing examined this initiative as well as the department’s overall capacity to provide timely, accessible and quality health care to eligible veteran patients.
HVAC Examines Use of VHA Physicians to Perform VBA Medical Examinations
The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing June 25 to examine the relationship between the Veterans Benefits Administration and the Veterans Health Administration in the ordering, scheduling, completion and review of compensation and pension (C&P) medical examinations used to make VA disability benefits determinations.
For years, routine practice at VA has been to assign large numbers of VHA physicians to handle C&P examinations for VBA purposes. However, as VA’s delays in care scandal continues to grow, the usefulness of this policy has come into question.
This hearing examined the use of VHA physicians to perform C&P examinations and whether they would be better utilized in medical treatment roles. In addition, the hearing explored the potential of expanding VA’s existing authority to contract C&P examinations out to private providers.

#
• Veterans’ Affairs Committee – Read Outs from the Week of June 23rd.pdf
________________________________________
Citations
[1] http://www.usatoday.com/story/nation/2014/04/08/va-cancer-treatment-deaths-delay-veterans-hospitals/7457255/.
[2] http://bigstory.ap.org/article/veterans-health-spending-doubled-senate-bill.

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