Three scofflaws and a sheriff rounded up 50 head of landowning cattle in Modesto last week and drove them back down a canyon all the way to the 18th century.
John Duarte,Jr., facing nearly $50 million in fines for deep-ripping vernal pools, settled out of court for $1 million.
Ammon and Ryan Bundy, Nevada ranchers who resisted federal confiscation of their cattle for years of unpaid grazing fees on BLM land by raising an insurrection of armed cattlemen's association types, faced years in prison, had already served two awaiting trial and were only saved by an incompetent or currupt US Attorney's office. Of
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, who has corrupted and destroyed the credibility of the House Intelligence Committee, all we have to say is: The mill of justice grinds slowly but exceedingly fine and the name, Devin Nunes will settle on the Friant-Kern Canal water like invisible dust.
The sheriff who spoke was described as "outgoing," not a comment on his personality but on the brevity of his remaining term in office.
People in the region who want to protest the socially irresponsible attitudes and behavior of these lawbreakers can boycott Duarte Nursery, Inc. beginning with buying your poinsettias elswhere. -- blj
Calling environmentalists an "enemy to humans," Bundy Ranch son speaks in Modesto
BY MARIJKE ROWLAND
Invoking God and railing against government and environmentalist interference, Ammon Bundy spoke at the Range Rights and Resources Symposium at the Modesto Junior College West Campus Saturday afternoon.
The two-day national symposium attracted a crowd of about 50 attendees. But its main attraction was an address by Bundy, a member of a Western ranching family that made national headlines in recent years after engaging in armed standoffs with authorities about the use of federal lands.
Calling America a "bible nation," Bundy warned against environmental groups who believed in the Earth over God.
"In the scripture, in the bible, we have guidance on what we are to do and how we are to act and what is our right and what the Earth was created for. What the animals are for, what the grass is for, what the trees are for, what the fruit is for," Bundy told the attendees inside the MJC Ag Pavillion. "Do we see a different doctrine? Do these different doctrines affect us? .... What if I told you that these people, these individuals or groups, if they are allowed to continue with their plans that they will entirely destroy the happiness of human life?"
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
The Bundys made headlines in 2014 when the Bureau of Land Management took cattle from Ammon Bundy's father's Nevada ranch over unpaid fees for grazing the cattle on federal land. Hundreds of Bundy supporters joined in an armed standoff until the federal agents withdrew.
Then in 2016, Ammon Bundy and his brother Ryan led an armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. A jury acquitted the Bundy brothers and five of their supporters later that year of all charges related to the 41-day refuge occupation. This January, after spending two years in prison, Ammon Bundy saw his charges for his involvement in the 2014 Nevada standoff dismissed by a federal judge.
Since his release, the nonprofit environmental group Center for Biological Diversity has been protesting some of Bundy's appearances. About a dozen local protesters joined leaders from the group, based out of Arizona, to hold signs and chant slogans outside the pavilion before Bundy began his talk.
Ryan Beam, a public land campaigner for the Center for Biological Diversity, said they wanted to come to the Modesto event to counter Bundy's message, which espouses the largely unfettered private use of public land.
"Our main mission to make sure the lies they tell get exposed.." Beam said. "They think they can do whatever they want on public lands as long as they have enough cowboy hats and guns."
Four counter protesters, carrying large American flags and distinctive yellow "Don't Tread on Me" flags, engaged in some back-and-forth with the environmental protestors and had their own signs complaining of government overreach.
During his hour-long talk, Bundy touched on topics like the recent drought and told the assembled crowd that "the water shortage is a lie." He cited fresh water discharge into the ocean and a failure to collect enough of rainwater. He also claimed that any moisture that escapes the atmosphere is replaced by asteroid ice entering the atmosphere.
In 2010, scientists using NASA telescopes indeed found a thin layer of ice on an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter, which led them to theorize an asteroid strike may be the initial origin of Earth's water. But no research points to asteroids continued replenishing of the planet's water.
Bundy also warned of collusion between the government and environmental groups like the Center for Biological Diversity. He said their beliefs run counter to the human species' survival.
"Who in their right mind would do what they are doing? Who would destroy the ranches, destroy the dams, destroy the farms? Who would do that? Only someone who does not want humans to be fed, for them to live in a place they want to live, to be able to enjoy life and, as the founders said, to pursue happiness," he said. "They are an enemy to humans. They live by a different doctrine. And it is not based upon Christian principals. It is based upon a completely different theology."
This was the third annual Range Rights and Resources Symposium, which came to Modesto thanks to the work of John Duarte, the owner of Hughson-based Duarte Nursery. On the first day of the event Friday, embattled House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, made an unlisted appearance and talked for about 30 minutes. Outgoing Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson also spoke on Saturday before Bundy's speech.
Settlement reached in federal case of Modesto-area farmer fined $2.8 million for plowing his field
BY DALE KASLER AND RYAN SABALOW
Northern California farmer John Duarte spent years fighting the federal government after being fined for plowing over protected wetlands on his property. He attracted a nationwide army of conservative supporters who saw it as government overreach and hoped the Trump administration would order federal officials to back off.
But just before his trial was set to start Tuesday, Duarte settled.
Duarte agreed to pay $330,000 in fines and another $770,000 on “compensatory mitigation,” according to a settlement agreement reached shortly before proceedings were to begin in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.
A judge already had ruled that Duarte broke the law; the trial was going to establish the penalties. The government had sought a $2.8 million fine and tens of millions of dollars in mitigation expenses.
Duarte said he settled reluctantly but feared a big penalty would jeopardize his family and his main business, a Modesto-area nursery that employs hundreds of workers.
“Given the risks posed by further trial on the government’s request for up to $45 million in penalties ... this was the best action I could take to protect those for whom I am responsible,” he said in a statement released by the Pacific Legal Foundation in Sacramento, a nonprofit law firm that takes up conservative causes.
Duarte became a cause célèbre among property-rights activists, farmers and other conservatives after running afoul of environmental laws in 2012. A judge ruled in 2016 that he violated the “Waters of the United States” provision of the Clean Water Act by “deep ripping” a Tehama County field without a permit. Duarte said he just planted winter wheat, as the previous property owners had done. But government officials said the field hadn’t been plowed in more than two decades, and he needed a permit before tearing up seasonal wetlands known as vernal pools that serve as habitat for plants and animals.
Duarte and his allies, including the leader of the American Farm Bureau and Republican members of Congress, called it a classic case of government meddling with agriculture. The Trump administration already has moved to relax the WOTUS rules that the Obama administration had sought to expand, and the congressmen were pressing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to drop the case against Duarte altogether.
Despite settling for far less than they were seeking, federal officials said the agreement shows the law must be obeyed.
“Today’s agreement affirms the Department of Justice’s commitment to the rule of law, results in meaningful environmental restoration, and brings to an end protracted litigation,” said Jeffrey Wood, acting assistant attorney general, in a prepared statement.
Farm advocates said the rules covering agriculture and the environment remain muddled. “We’re still looking at the same kinds of risks going forward that (Duarte) was facing,” said Mike Wade of the California Farm Water Coalition. “It would have been nice knowing ... where we are in terms of federal regulatory oversight.”
Wade, however, said he doesn’t fault Duarte for settling. “There comes a point in time when you take the practical route as a businessman,” he said.
Environmentalists said Duarte’s case illustrated the perils of President Donald Trump’s efforts to roll back the Obama-era rules that expanded what types of wetlands are protected under federal law.
“This case definitely shows that we need things like the Clean Water Rule to make sure our water is protected and to make sure everybody knows what is covered and what isn't covered,” said Michael Kelly of Clean Water Action, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental group.
The WOTUS rules are designed to protect navigable rivers, streams and other waterways. In recent years, the government had been expanding the rules to include wetlands that feed into rivers, to the growing outrage of farmers.
The rules exempt ordinary farming activities that are considered “established and ongoing,” but U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller ruled that Duarte’s actions weren’t allowed because the Tehama field had been idle for more than 20 years.
Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt was asked about the Duarte case at his Senate confirmation hearing in January and Pruitt signaled that he was sympathetic to Duarte’s cause. Duarte’s lawyers had sought to have Pruitt testify at the trial. U.S. District judge Kimberly Mueller overruled that. An EPA spokeswoman referred inquiries to the Justice Department.
Duarte had insisted he did nothing wrong and his plowing activities caused no harm to the wetlands on the Tehama property.
The settlement forbids Duarte from dredging or farming the 44 acres that had been disturbed, with the exception of “moderate non-irrigated cattle grazing,” for 10 years. In addition to the $330,000 fine, Duarte will spend $770,000 on “compensatory mitigation,” such as purchasing wetlands credits. The money will be spent restoring wetlands on Sacramento Valley properties other than his.
Another Bundy standoff possible as groups call for US to seize livestock
Coalition of wildlife groups write to US Bureau of Land Management asking them to remove Cliven Bundy’s cattle from federal land in Nevada
Militia Leader Who Tried to Bomb a Remote Federal Cabin Pleads Guilty
..."Keebler was caught red handed trying to blow up U.S. government property, with no concern that he might endanger the lives of law enforcement," said Greg Zimmerman of the Center for Western Priorities. "The failure to hold the Bundy family accountable has, unfortunately, given permission to other scofflaws and copy cats"...
The Botched Cliven Bundy Case Was Just The Latest Example Of Prosecutorial Misconduct In Las Vegas
Brooke Williams, Shawn Musgrave
...Navarro didn’t explore any of the more incendiary allegations against Myhre brought by a whistleblower, including claims that Myhre adopted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude about potential inappropriate conduct by federal agents working on the Bunkerville investigation. The Nevada U.S. Attorney’s Office has denied the whistleblower’s allegations and called them “false in all material aspects” in court filings.
After weighing possible sanctions, Navarro decided dismissal was the most appropriate, both to uphold the defendants’ due process rights and to deter “future investigatory and prosecutorial misconduct.”
“None of the alternative sanctions available are as certain to impress the government with the court’s resoluteness in holding prosecutors and their investigative agencies to the ethical standards which regulate the legal profession as a whole,” she said...
Devin Nunes just destroyed any semblance of bipartisanship in the House Intel Committee
Russia isn't paying for this wall.
\Before Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) became chairman in 2015, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence had a reputation for bipartisanship. With the revelation, reported by CBS News on Thursday, that the committee’s Republican majority staff will soon be separated from the Democratic minority staffers on the committee by a wall — literally, a physical barrier separating public officials from each other — members of both parties are saying Nunes has destroyed any spirit of collaboration the committee once enjoyed.
Nunes took the reigns of the committee three years ago, promising to work “on a bipartisan basis” and to collaborate closely with the committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, who also represents a district in California. “This committee has a strong record of bipartisanship,” he said at the time, “and based on my previous cooperation with Rep. Schiff on the committee and on other issues, I am confident this tradition will continue in the new Congress.” In an interview with Bloomberg View, Nunes praised his predecessor’s, Rep. Mike Rogers’ (R-MI) successful work across the aisle: “Under his leadership, the Intelligence Committee had excellent bipartisan cooperation, and that tradition needs to continue.” That did not happen.
Last year, Nunes reportedly made calls to media outlets, at the Trump administration’s behest, to steer them away from the (correct) story that the Trump campaign’s Russian ties were under investigation.
Then he became the subject of an ethics investigation after he traveled to the White House, examined classified information provided to him by Trump administration aides, and disclosed the information in a clumsy attempt to validate the president’s false claims that his phone was tapped by then-Preisdent Obama during the 2016 campaign. Though Nunes said he would recuse himself from the committee’s examination of the alleged ties between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives until the ethics committee closed its investigation in December, he continued to do the administration’s bidding over that time. Former chairman Rogers slammed Nunes, telling CNN last April that he’d have handled things “completely differently.”
In the past few weeks, Nunes and the Republican majority on the committee successfully worked with Trump to release a misleading memo suggesting wrongdoing on the part of intelligence officials investigating the Trump-Russia scandal, on a party-line vote. At the same time, the majority delayed releasing Schiff’s rebuttal memo that purportedly debunked the claims.
Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) slammed Nunes in an op/ed last week for acting “like a partisan hack.” Fox News host Shepard Smith lambasted him in late January for a “partisan mass distraction.” And even Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL), who currently services on House Intelligence, told CBS News, “The level of trust and the level of everything down there is — it’s poison. It’s absolute poison down there,” adding that bipartisanship “is gone. It’s gone from that committee.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) told CBS News, “The committee is still redeemable — but not with Devin Nunes as chair.” And the Democratic leadership has urged Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to remove Nunes. But Nunes remains at the helm of the committee responsible for oversight of the nation’s intelligence — and the wall his team is building seems a perfect metaphor for his tenure.
Sea of poinsettias at Hughson’s Duarte Nursery
Duarte Nursery in Hughson is a popular destination for folks looking to buy poinsettias right where they’re grown. The nursery grows more than 60,000 of the plants, in more than 30 varieties and colors. It calls it the sea of poinsettias. Duarte began poinsettia sales in mid-November and clearly still has thousands from which to choose. It also has poinsettia triples, decorative bowls, pots and vases with the colorful plants. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. For more, go to www.duartenursery.com/ag-products/poinsettias.