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Trump to allow ‘outrageous’ gold rush-style grab of public lands to begin in less than 48 hours

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Despite protests from conservationists, local tribe leaders, Democratic lawmakers, and even the United Nations’ expert on indigenous rights, at 6am on Friday the Trump administration will allow citizens and companies to start staking claims on sections of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah so the new stakeholders can conduct hard rock mining on the formerly protected lands.

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“It is outrageous to witness the dismantling of the Bears Ears national monument, in what constitutes a serious attack on indigenous peoples’ rights in the United States,” said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

Tauli-Corpuz noted that the previous administration’s decision to create the monument “protected thousands of sacred sites which are central to the preservation of regional Native culture,” and warned President Donald Trump’s December decision to reduce Bears Ears’ area by about 85 percent “exposes thousands of acres of sacred lands and archaeological sites to the threats of desecration, contamination, and permanent destruction.”

Critics have turned to social media to denounce the “modern land run.”

In response to the attacks on public lands and a proposal from Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah) that purports to give management control of the remaining land to indigenous leaders—who say the measure “is tribal in name only”—a group of Democratic senators has introduced a bill to fight back against Trump and Republicans in Congress:

In spite of widespread opposition, the Trump administration’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to move forward with allowing stakeholders to claim plots of land on Friday, and has determined the process will be governed by the General Mining Law of 1872, which covers mining for metals such as copper, gold, silver, and uranium (but not coal and petroleum).

“The process for staking a claim remains much as it did during the Gold Rush,” Reuters reports:

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A prospector hammers four poles into the ground corresponding to the four points of a parcel that can be as big as 20 acres, and attaches a written description of the claim onto one of them. A prospector then has 30 days to record the claim at the local BLM office….

The costs of claiming are low: a $212 filing fee, and an annual maintenance fee of $150. Unlike laws governing petroleum extraction, there are no environmental guidelines specific to hard rock mining, and no requirement to pay a royalty. The claims provide prospectors mineral rights but not ownership of the land.

Lauren Pagel, the policy director of the nonprofit Earthworks, criticized the law as outdated, telling Reuters, “It’s really the last law still on the books from that Manifest Destiny era encouraging a resources free-for-all.”

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This article was originally published at Common Dreams


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Why you should sell your house now — and not wait for the climate to change

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Cities across the United States are already seeing the impacts of climate change. Sea levels are on the rise in Miami, Florida, where ocean waters creep into the streets, even when it isn't raining. Massive wildfires have taken out whole neighborhoods in California and in Alaska, about 2.5 million acres have burned since July 3. Wildfires there are getting worse, according to experts.

The problem of climate change has reached a dangerous level for some homeowners in areas that are no longer insurable. In Miami, for example, the "street-level" is now considered the basement and insurers are dropping coverage for basements. According to the Daily Beast, at least 340,000 California homeowners lost their property insurance coverage between 2015 and 2018 because the wildfires are getting worse and companies don't want to pay out when homes are destroyed.

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GOP lawmakers working behind the scenes with Democrats to curb Trump’s tariff madness

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According to a report from Wall Street Journal, Republican lawmakers are working behind the scenes to rein in Donald Trump's penchant for declaring tariffs willy-nilly depending on how he feels about other countries and their leaders at any given time.

As the president trade war rages on -- impacting manufacturers, farmers and consumers alike -- Republicans looking at the 2020 election are desperate to turn around a U.S. economy that looks headed for a recession.

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Beto O’Rourke doubles down on gun buybacks

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Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, a Texas Democrat who is running for president in 2020, told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that he believes assault weapons are "instruments of terror" and the government should implement a mandatory buyback policy.

I was asked about @SenToomey saying mandatory buybacks are "awful."

I said the priorities in D.C. are screwed up.

What's awful is a 17 month-old baby shot in the face with an AR-15 in Odessa. What's awful is 22 people killed in a Walmart buying school supplies in El Paso. pic.twitter.com/JAN1xfrQYS

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