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Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Despite having received more than half a million citizen comments opposing the action, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on June 22 that it is removing federal Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and effectively transferring management authority over these bears to Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. State authorities and wildlife managers have already signaled their plans to allow trophy hunting of America’s greatest carnivores. If their plans are realized, it will be the first time grizzlies have been legally hunted in the lower 48 states in decades.

Matt Hogan, the regional U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official who led the delisting effort, was the former chief lobbyist for the Safari Club International, the world’s leading trophy hunting club. Opening up grizzly bear hunting has been a long-time aspiration of the SCI, and killing one of the largest bears in the world is the goal of so many would-be Walter Palmers within its ranks. (Palmer is the Minnesota dentist who traveled half way around the world to shoot Cecil the African lion.)

According to multiple stories in the Native American media outlet Native News Online and also High Country News, oil, gas and mining interests have also pushed for federal delisting. They are interested in developing public lands in grizzly bear habitat and extracting energy (even as the price of oil has sunk to around $40 a barrel).

Matt Hogan appears not to have disclosed his ties to Anadarko Petroleum and Gas, Wyoming’s main lease holder and landowner, prompting the Oglala Sioux Tribe to request last year that Congress investigate the USFWS’s call to delist Yellowstone grizzly bears.

Against this backdrop, 125 Native American tribes from the United States and Canada have signed onto a historic treaty—one of three of its kind in written history—that calls for continued protections for grizzly bears and expresses their opposition to trophy hunting of an animal sacred to tribes across the continent.

U.S. Reps. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., Tom Cole, R-Okla. and Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Tom Udall, D-N.M. and Cory Booker, D-N.J., have sent letters to Congress or Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke requesting that the USFWS engage in consultation with the tribes before delisting grizzly bears from the ESA. Thus far, the USFWS has sidestepped meaningful consultation with the tribes, abrogating U.S. treaty obligations to them.

But it’s not just the tribes that don’t want trophy hunters to kill bears for their heads and hides. Polling shows upwards of 80 percent of all Americans oppose this practice.

What’s more, live grizzlies are an economic boon to the Yellowstone region and the gateway communities that surround the park. Surveys reveal that watching mega-fauna such as grizzlies and wolves is the number-one reason why people visit the area. Wolf- and bear-watching generate tens of millions of dollars in economic activity. While Congress and the administration may cater to the industries intent on killing grizzlies or degrading their habitat, millions of Americans want the agency to maintain protections and shield the animals from state wildlife managers aligned with trophy hunting and ranching and oil interests. Protecting the animals is not just the right moral position. It’s the right business action too.

Even without trophy hunting, through a variety of circumstances, humans claim the lives of bears—more than 100 in 2015 and 2016. Many hazards befall these animals, from poaching and mistaken identity killing during the black bear hunting season, to roadkill. Some bears are killed for threatening livestock or public safety. These risks are compounded because the species’ key food sources are depleted—including white bark pine nuts and cutthroat trout—and that circumstance has spurred them to roam to find nourishment. When their interactions with humans increase, the grizzlies typically lose.

“I don’t think the population can sustain any increase in mortality,” grizzly bear expert David Mattson told The HSUS. “In fact, the population will continue to decline unless we actually reduce the number of bears dying from all causes.” Another grizzly bear expert, Professor Robert Weilgus, told The HSUS that trophy hunting will disrupt the social relationships of surviving bears, causing more aggression between them.

Specifically, young adult males will move into the territory of a slain male grizzly and fight with fight with each other and even kill the cubs of females, so they can mate with them. “Grizzly bears haven’t evolved to be hunted like game,” Prof. Weilgus stated. “If they hunt them [around Yellowstone], I don’t see how the bear population could continue to stay at the level it is now. It would pretty much have to decline.”

The USFWS has subordinated protecting rare species to appeasing special interests. Delisting is not a success story, but a precursor to severe exploitation. That said, there is an extraordinary coalition of tribes, businesses, animal advocates, scientists, and environmentalists prepared to defend the grizzlies. The HSUS is prepared to take swift action to protect this majestic icon. We’ll see the parties who want to kill the bears in court. And we’ll have plenty of company.

This article was originally published on Wayne Pacelle’s blog, A Humane Nation.

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.


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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Tina Peters

YouTube Screenshot

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

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