As everyone by now knows, Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton today. If you're feeling a little down about Bernie Sanders stepping down from the race, this farewell speech may make you laugh instead of cry. I've written about the comedic duo behind the Trump Vs. Bernie show. Here is James Adomian's Bernie Sanders explaining what he and Hillary share and encouraging the movement to keep on keeping on.
Wildlife advocacy groups are sounding the alarm about a new "extermination" law in Idaho, signed this week by GOP Gov. Brad Little, that will allow hunters and private contractors to kill up to 90% of the state's gray wolf population—about 1,350 animals.
"Backed by an array of misinformation and fearmongering, the state Legislature stepped over experts at the Idaho Fish and Game Department and rushed to pass this horrific wolf-killing bill," said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement.
"And Republican lawmakers have promised that this is just the beginning, even though the new measure would doom 90% of Idaho's wolves," Zaccardi noted. "We're disappointed that Gov. Little signed such a cruel and ill-conceived bill into law."
Before Little approved the measure, Fast Company reported that "it's one of a handful of Western states' aggressive pushes to cull predator populations. But, this one goes a step further: hiring hitmen for wolves."
The law increases the funds allocated to Idaho's Wolf Depredation Control Board from $110,000 to $300,000. According to Fast Company:
With that money, the bill calls for hiring private contractors to kill (or, using the bill text's language, "dispose of") wolves. In past years, wolves were killed via controlled hunting seasons, or government bodies like the Wildlife Services (a federal body whose job it is to keep animal populations down); the use of these contractors is "unprecedented," Zaccardi says. The bill explicitly empowers these freelance assassins to use creative ways to shoot wolves, including from ATVs, snowmobiles, and motorized parachutes.
The development in Idaho follows a series of anti-wolf bills in Montana signed into law this year by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte—who violated his state's hunting regulations in February, when he killed a black wolf on a private ranch near Yellowstone National Park.
A rider proposed by congressional Republicans and attached to a federal budget bill a decade ago stripped gray wolves of Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections in Idaho, Montana, and parts of Oregon, Utah, and Washington state. The Trump administration's delisting of gray wolves in the lower 48 states took effect in January.
"We must not abandon fragile wolf-recovery efforts and allow anti-wolf states, hunters, and trappers to push these iconic species back to the brink of extinction."
—Sarah McMillian, WildEarth Guardians
Critics of the recent delisiting highlighted conditions in Idaho to make the case for retaining national ESA protections. Last September, conservationists revealed that a record-breaking 570 wolves, including dozens of pups, were brutally killed in the state over a recent one-year period.
Samantha Bruegger of WildEarth Guardians said at the time that "Idaho's reckless, violent, massacre of wolves and their pups not only showcases the worst of state wildlife 'management,' it shines a light on the darkest corners of humanity."
Other leaders at the organization echoed that sentiment this week.
"WildEarth Guardians and our allies filed a lawsuit 10 years ago in an attempt and overturn this undemocratic, spiteful wolf rider because we believed the wolf delisting rider violated the U.S. Constitution," noted executive director John Horning.
"While our lawsuit wasn't successful because Congress simply closed the courthouse doors," Horning said, "the hateful and ongoing attempts to completely decimate wolf populations in Idaho and Montana warrant national outrage and action by Congress to restore wolf protections in the northern Rockies."
Sarah McMillian, the group's Montana-based conservation director, concurred that the "barbaric" situations facing wolves in her state and Idaho "prove that the gray wolf still needs federal Endangered Species Act protections."
"As we clearly warned 10 years ago, the state 'management' of wolves essentially amounts to the brutal state-sanctioned eradication of this keystone native species," McMillian said. "State 'management' of wolves in Idaho and Montana harkens back to an era when people sought to exterminate wolves altogether, and nearly succeeded."
"These types of actions were not only deplorable in the early 1900s, but they have zero place in science-based management of a keystone species in 2021, especially in the midst of a biodiversity crisis and nature crisis," she warned. "We must not abandon fragile wolf-recovery efforts and allow anti-wolf states, hunters, and trappers to push these iconic species back to the brink of extinction."
Western Watersheds Project similarly blasted the new laws, and the legislators behind them, as politically motivated rather than informed by science.
"These bills recall the anti-predator hysteria of the early 1900s that originally led to the near-extirpation of wolves from the lower 48 states, and represent a gross overreach by Montana and Idaho's legislative bodies," said Jocelyn Leroux, the project's Washington and Montana director. "Rather than allowing science and agency professionals to be the leading voice in wildlife management, these state legislatures instead have executed a blatant power grab on behalf of a small group of anti-predator fanatics."
"The campaign to exterminate wolves continuously disregards facts," Leroux charged, pushing back against claims about wolves causing livestock losses. "This type of uncontrolled slaughter is what led to the original listing of gray wolves and will have broad ecosystem impacts."
Talasi Brooks, staff attorney for Western Watersheds Project, pointed to the measures as proof that action is needed at the federal level to protect gray wolves.
"The actions of Montana and Idaho this year show that these states are unfit to manage large predators," Brooks said. "Federal supervision is necessary to make sure wolf management is based on sound science and not directed by anti-wildlife extremists. We will be keeping a close eye on wolf populations in the northern Rockies."
Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson is calling for more Christians to be elected to office "today more than ever before," because "the end times" are here.
Watson made his remarks at a National Day of Prayer event at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson on Thursday, as the Mississippi Free Press reports.
“I believe we need Christian men and women in office today more than ever before. And if you're a believer, if you're a member of the church, you understand the signs of the times right now," Watson said. “In the last few years, no more than ever before in the history of the church, we see the end times."
On Friday Watson appeared to try to clean up his remarks – but only to a degree.
"So enjoyed our National Day of Prayer service at the Coliseum," he wrote on Facebook. "It was a wonderful time of prayer and worship shared by a group reflective of all walks of life here in Mississippi. I was honored to pray for our elected leaders, and trust the Lord will provide more men and women full of Christian character to step up and serve. This world definitely needs more salt and light!"
"Salt and light" is a reference to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.
Mississippi Free Press senior reporter Ashton Pittman notes that as Secretary of State Watson is the state's top elections official. That should call into question he support for the separation of church and state as well as how he would treat candidates who are not Christian.
The event was attended by other state political leaders, including Republican Governor Tate Reeves. None appeared to voice any concerns over the top elections official clearly favoring Christians over other potential office hopefuls.
Pushing back on the right-wing narrative about the reason for real or perceived labor shortages in some markets nationwide, progressives on Friday told corporations that if they want to hire more people, they'll need to start paying better wages.
Soon after the Labor Department released its April jobs report, the U.S. Chamber of Congress blamed last month's weak employment growth on the existence of a $300 weekly supplemental jobless benefit and began urging lawmakers to eliminate the federally enhanced unemployment payments that were extended through early September when congressional Democrats passed President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan.
"We do not have a shortage of willing workers in this country. We have a shortage of employers who are willing to pay workers enough to live."
—Morris Pearl, Patriotic Millionaires
"No. We don't need to end [the additional] $300 a week in emergency unemployment benefits that workers desperately need," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in response to the grumbles of the nation's largest business lobbying group. "We need to end starvation wages in America."
"If $300 a week is preventing employers from hiring low-wage workers there's a simple solution," Sanders added. "Raise your wages. Pay decent benefits."
According to the Chamber's analysis, the extra $300 unemployment insurance (UI) benefit results in roughly one in four recipients taking home more pay than they earned working.
In response to that claim, Sanders' staff director Warren Gunnels said: "If one in four recipients are making more off unemployment than they did working, that's not an indictment of $300 a week in UI benefits. It's an indictment of corporations paying starvation wages."
"Raise your wages and benefits or flip your own damn burgers and sweep your own damn floors," Gunnels added.
Other progressives like former labor secretary Robert Reich and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) also chimed in.
"We do not have a shortage of willing workers in this country," Morris Pearl of the Patriotic Millionaires said in a Friday afternoon statement responding to the Chamber. "We have a shortage of employers who are willing to pay workers enough to live."
"Claiming that today's disappointing jobs report is a result of expanded unemployment insurance is nothing more than a cruel tactic to pressure the administration into helping companies that they represent to continue to underpay and exploit their workforce," Pearl continued. "Our leaders are supposed to be helping to increase wages for low paid workers, not helping employers to keep wages down."
"Instead of blaming struggling workers," Pearl continued, "large corporations that do not pay their employees a liveable wage... should take this moment to self-reflect. Maybe—just maybe—paying their workers more than starvation wages would incentivize workers to reenter the workforce."
Writing for Jacobin earlier this week, Sandy Barnard noted that another overlooked factor is the increased morbidity rates among food and agricultural workers, which increased more than any other occupation during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent study from the University of California–San Francisco.
"Living, breathing people... have decided they do not want to risk their lives for $7.25 per hour and no health benefits," Barnard wrote.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) responded to the Chamber's call for an end to enhanced unemployment benefits by arguing that "the interests of big business are at war with the interests of the working class."
"They will spend millions of dollars to take $300 a [week] away from you and your family, to force you to work for them for pennies," she added. "Their greed has no bounds."
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