Tuesday, April 29, 2014

We Can’t Save the Environment without Freedom

The first Earth Day took place in 1970, when I was a high school senior, and that day set the course of my life for the next 25 years. Convinced of the need to protect the environment and realizing that forests were a key part of the environment in my home state of Oregon, I elected to attend forestry school, graduating in 1974.

Over the next two decades, I helped almost every major environmental group in their efforts to save public forests from what we thought were the rapacious hands of timber companies. But I soon realized that the real problem was that Congress had inadvertently given public land agencies budgetary incentives to lose money harming the environment, and disincentives to either make money or do environmental good.

This insight helped me see that creating markets for all resources would allow them to compete on a level playing field. Recreation fees, for example, could reward public land managers for protecting things that recreationists care about, such as scenery, diverse wildlife habitat, and clean water. Though economists estimated that recreation was worth more than any other public land resource, Congress didn’t allow managers to charge for most recreation.

Many environmentalists in the 1970s and 1980s were receptive to my ideas of reform. Our common goal was to protect the environment, and they happily accepted any tools that would solve a particular environmental problem best. Soon, Congress passed a law allowing federal land agencies to charge recreation fees and to keep those fees.

Unfortunately, things changed in the early 1990s because of two events: the fall of the Soviet Union and the election of Bill Clinton to the White House.

Polls showed that the fall of the Soviet Union persuaded most Americans that government was a poor solution to most problems. One of the few exceptions was environmental protection, which many Americans still believed needed government regulation. This led many self-described “progressives,” who believe in more government control, to push their agenda by joining the environmental movement.

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Report: Pentagon to destroy $1B in ammunition

The Pentagon plans to destroy more than $1 billion worth of ammunition although some of those bullets and missiles could still be used by troops, according to the Pentagon and congressional sources.

It’s impossible to know what portion of the arsenal slated for destruction — valued at $1.2 billion by the Pentagon — remains viable because the Defense Department’s inventory systems can’t share data effectively, according to a Government Accountability Office report obtained by USA TODAY.

The result: potential waste of unknown value.

“There is a huge opportunity to save millions, if not billions of dollars if the (Pentagon) can make some common-sense improvements to how it manages ammunition,” said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., and chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “Despite years of effort, the Army, Navy and Air Force still don’t have an efficient process for doing something as basic as sharing excess bullets. This Government Accountability Office (GAO) report clearly shows that our military’s antiquated systems lead to millions of dollars in wasteful ammunition purchases.”

The Army and Pentagon, in a statement, acknowledged “the need to automate the process” and will make it a priority in future budgets. In all, the Pentagon manages a stockpile of conventional ammunition worth $70 billion.

The effect of inaccurate accounting of ammunition for troops at war was outside the scope of the study. However, there were limited supplies at times of .50-caliber machine gun and 9mm handgun ammunition at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a senior military officer who spoke on condition of anonymity to talk about the issue.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Texas robbery victim forced kill his dog with his bare hands after cop shoots it for barking

A Texas man said this week that he was forced to kill his dog with his bare hands after an officer who he called to investigate a burglary shot the animal because it was barking.

Earlier this week, Cole Middleton explained on Facebook that he had contacted the Rains County Sheriff’s Department about a robbery last Friday.

Middleton admitted that his 3-year-old dog, Candy, was probably barking when the Deputy Jerred Dooley arrived, but he insisted that the animal had never bitten anyone.

“I shot your dog, sorry,” Middleton recalled Dooley saying.

Middleton said Candy had been shot behind the ear, but she was not dead.

“I BEGGED him to shoot her again (SINCE MY WEAPONS WERE STOLEN!) and he refused,” Middleton wrote on Facebook. “I then had to do the otherwise unthinkable and take my poor baby’s life with my own hands while praying for this to be over with.”

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Girl’s arrest for doodling raises concerns about zero tolerance

There was no profanity, no hate. Just the words, “I love my friends Abby and Faith. Lex was here 2/1/10 :)” scrawled on the classroom desk with a green marker.

Alexa Gonzalez, an outgoing 12-year-old who likes to dance and draw, expected a lecture or maybe detention for her doodles earlier this month. Instead, the principal of the Junior High School in Forest Hills, New York, called police, and the seventh-grader was taken across the street to the police precinct.

Alexa’s hands were cuffed behind her back, and tears gushed as she was escorted from school in front of teachers and — the worst audience of all for a preadolescent girl — her classmates.

“They put the handcuffs on me, and I couldn’t believe it,” Alexa recalled. “I didn’t want them to see me being handcuffed, thinking I’m a bad person.”

Alexa is no longer facing suspension, according a spokeswoman for the New York City Department of Education. Still, the case of the doodling preteen is raising concerns about the use of zero tolerance policies in schools.

Critics say schools and police have gone too far, overreacting and using well-intended rules for incidents involving nonviolent offenses such as drawing on desks, writing on other school property or talking back to teachers.

“We are arresting them at younger and younger ages [in cases] that used to be covered with a trip to the principal’s office, not sending children to jail,” said Emma Jordan-Simpson, executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund, a national children’s advocacy group.

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Colorado 2016 poll: Rand Paul beats Hillary Clinton

Sen. Rand Paul appears to be the man to beat in Colorado in 2016, a new poll says.

Colorado voters would favor the Kentucky Republican over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by 48 percent to 43 percent in a potential 2016 presidential race, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

Paul also has a higher favorability rating than the other three possible Republican presidential contenders listed in the poll — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Paul’s favorability ranking is 41 percent and his unfavorability ranking is 30 percent. Huckabee has a favorability rating of 37 percent and an unfavorability ranking of 30 percent. The other two GOP candidates both have higher unfavorability than favorability rankings.

For her part, Clinton scores 48 percent in favorability and 47 percent in unfavorability with respondents.

The poll comes as speculation is rising about the 2016 GOP presidential field and provides insight into a state that was crucial in the 2012 election.

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