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After Standing Rock, protesting pipelines can get you a decade in prison and $100K in fines

Cherri Foytlin and her fellow protestors spent much of last summer suspended 35-feet in the air in “sky pods” tied to cypress trees. They were hoping to block the Bayou Bridge Pipeline from running through their part of Louisiana.

At the time, Energy Transfer Partners was building the pipeline to move oil between Texas and St. James Parish in southern Louisiana, crisscrossing through the Atchafalaya Basin, one of the largest swamps in the country. Foytlin and others with the group L’Eau Est La Vie (“Water Is Life”) set up wooden platforms between trees along the proposed path of the pipeline. The construction crew couldn’t build the pipeline with a protestor dangling above.

Though the protesters were on private land with the landowner’s permission, some were eventually arrested by St. Martin’s Parish Sheriff’s deputies in mid August. The pipeline was completed in March, yet Foytlin could still face up to five years in prison and $1,000 in fines.

That’s because Louisiana’s Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, signed HB 727 into law last spring, making trespassing on “critical infrastructure” property a much more serious crime than garden-variety trespassing. What was once a misdemeanor is now a felony. The law takes a broad view of what’s “critical”: pipelines, natural gas plants, and other facilities, as well as property on a proposed pipeline route, even if the pipeline isn’t there yet.

Foytlin is one of at least 16 people in Louisiana who’ve been arrested and charged with felonies under the new law, according to Loyola University law professor Bill Quigley, who’s representing Foytlin. All of them were jailed and had to post bonds, some as high as $20,000 to get out. The district attorney hasn’t officially charged any of them yet, Quigley said.

“These are people saying let’s make sure we have something left for future generations in the most beautiful swamp in the world,” Foytlin said. “And for that we were charged with felonies, we were beaten, we were stepped on, I was choked.” To her, the law allows the state to jail people for unpopular political views. (Messages left with the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office weren’t returned.)

The effort to punish pipeline protestors has spread across states with ample oil and gas reserves in the last two years and, in some cases, has garnered bipartisan support. Besides Louisiana, four other states — Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa — have enacted similar laws after protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline generated national attention and inspired a wave of civil disobedience.

Just last week in Texas, House lawmakers passed a bill that makes interfering with some oil and gas operations makes interfering with operations at oil and gas facilities a third-degree felony — on par with indecent exposure to a child.

Lawmakers in at least seven other states, including Minnesota, Kentucky, and Illinois, are considering similar legislation.

All these efforts have garnered broad support from the oil and gas industry. And many of the bills bear a startling resemblance to model legislation being pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative nonprofit backed by the Koch Brothers.

They have a lot in common. For starters, they heighten penalties for damaging oil and gas infrastructure and for trespassing with the intent to disrupt operations. Some mete out punishments of up to 10 years in prison and $100,000 in fines. Others would penalize organizations that “aid” protesters, making environmental groups liable for the actions of their members.

“This law is unnecessary,” said Elly Page, an attorney with International Center for Not for-Profit Law, a group that has been tracking this legislation around the country. “Trespass is already a criminal offense under the law. Damaging private property is already a criminal offense. These create really egregious penalties for conduct that’s already penalized.”

The forces behind the scenes

By the beginning of 2017, hundreds of protesters at Standing Rock had spent months clashing with law enforcement and private security guards hired by the pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners. Videos of law enforcement blasting protesters with water cannons had gone viral, and the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe filed suit to block the pipeline. Inspired by those protests, a coalition of Native American and environmental activists in Oklahoma announced they planned to stop construction of the Diamond Pipeline, which would carry oil from Cushing, Oklahoma to Tennessee.

That February, a Republican member of Oklahoma’s state House, Representative Mark McBride sponsored a bill raising penalties for trespassers on property with oil and gas infrastructure and holding any “person or entity that compensates or remunerates a person for trespassing” liable. McBride said at the time that the idea for the bill came from protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. When asked how he would define “compensates,” he punted, saying it “would be for the courts to decide.”

Gov. Mary Fallin signed McBride’s bill into law three months later, along with another piece of legislation that created penalties for protesting near facilities considered “critical infrastructure.” Protesters in Oklahoma can now face a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail, and organizations that “compensate” them are liable for up to $1 million.

That caught the attention of ALEC. The influential group takes corporate money and drafts ready-made legislation for lobbyists and lawmakers. It has been behind the effort to exempt Big Oil from having to disclose chemicals in fracking fluids and pushed so-called ag-gag laws, which stymie undercover investigations of agricultural operations.

At a national conference organized by ALEC in December 2017, the group’s Energy, Environment, and Agriculture task force proposed a model bill titled the “Critical Infrastructure Protection Act.” A few months later, ALEC’s board signed off on the bill, and it soon appeared on the organization’s website. Bills with similar language then began cropping up in state legislatures.

In March 2018, then-Louisiana State Representative Major Thibaut, a Democrat, introduced HB 727, the one that landed Foytlin in jail. That same month, Wyoming and Minnesota passed similar legislation which was later vetoed by their governors.

Oil and gas lobbyists have also been backing legislation penalizing protestors. In state after state, representatives for Big Oil were an overwhelming majority of those testifying and registering as lobbyists in support of the proposals.

This January, a lobbyist working with the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers wrote to Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant’s policy advisor promoting legislation “to provide for criminal penalties for those who wilfully and illegally trespass, disrupt, destroy” oil and gas facilities. The lobbyist noted in his email that he was “expecting a bill from Chairman [Angela] Cockerham and Chairman [Sally] Doty,” two members of the state’s legislature representing each side of the aisle. Doty and Cockerham introduced bills that fit his description in the Mississippi House and Senate that week.

The second wave

Environmental advocates who’ve been tracking these anti-protest bills say 2019 has ushered in a second wave of them. And ALEC appears to be cheering them on. In February, as a cold snap gripped the Midwest and Northeast, ALEC’s Grant Kidwell sent an email to members of the group’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force noting that Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, and Wyoming had introduced legislation with similar language to their model bill. “The frigid temperatures brought by the polar vortex this week serve as a reminder of the important [sic] of energy infrastructure,” he wrote. “Thankfully, states have recognized the important [sic] of critical infrastructure and are moving to protect it.”

[Copies of the ALEC newsletter and emails by lobbyists were obtained by Documented, a watchdog group that tracks corporate influence on public policy, and provided to Grist.]

Texas has seen a handful of prominent pipeline fights in recent years, including ones opposing the Trans-Pecos pipeline near the Texas-Mexico border and the southern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline. Environmental groups and landowners are currently trying to stop construction of the Permian Highway pipeline, a 430-mile conduit to move natural gas from West Texas to the Gulf Coast.

The legislation could have a chilling effect on private landowners who’ve played a large role in fighting pipelines in Texas, said Judith McGeary of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, an advocacy group for independent farmers.

Valero has been building a pipeline through McGeary’s 165-acre farm in central Texas. A few weeks ago, McGeary, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, said she found a swastika painted on the pipeline on her property. Suspecting that members of the construction crew were involved, she locked the gates to her farm and demanded that Valero send new workers. McGeary said Valero responded by threatening to sue for up to $500,000 in damages for interfering with construction. (Valero did not respond to a request for comment.)

“This was a horrible experience for us as it was,” she said. “We look at this legislation and they could’ve been threatening to have the sheriff come and pursue us for third degree felonies — for locking the gate for a weekend. It’s an incredible overreach.”

Environmental advocates see a key difference between the states that considered such bills last year and this year. In 2018, the vast majority were Republican-controlled and had significant oil and gas resources. Now the effort is spreading to states run mostly by Democrats, like Illinois, and devoid of large oil and gas deposits, like Kentucky. Illinois, for instance, is considering a bill that would make trespassing on critical infrastructure property a Class 4 felony, in line with obstruction of justice, criminal sexual abuse, and parental kidnapping.

‘Damn it, we’re going to go all in.’

Activists and First Amendment advocates are fighting back. In South Dakota, after Governor Kristi Noem championed bills that prohibit “riot-boosting” and enable the government to collect damages from protesters, the Oglala Sioux Tribe told her she’s “not welcome” on their reservation.

“These are our lands and our water,” the tribe’s president, Julian Bear Runner, wrote in a letter to Noem. “If you do not honor this directive … we will have no choice but to banish you.”

The ACLU has also filed suit challenging South Dakota’s new law on behalf of a handful of environmental and indigenous rights groups. Vera Eidelman, a staff attorney with the ACLU, pointed to one provision that allows the government to collect damages from protesters and use the money to cover the expenses of law enforcement.

“Meaning, essentially, if you protest the pipeline and are held liable under this law, you have to pay damages, and you are in fact funding this thing that you protested,” Eidelman said.

Quigley, the law professor representing Foytlin, said he plans on challenging Louisiana’s law as unconstitutional in federal court. “The law infringes on the First Amendment right to protest by being so vague that it can be used in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner as it was [with Foytlin],” he said.

For her part, Foytlin says such laws won’t deter her or other advocates from protesting pipelines. In fact, they might backfire.

“People will continue to go to prison.” she said. “They think that by upping the punishment they’re going to keep people from protesting, but what will happen is we’re going to do things that are more worth getting the felony. Because now if we’re going to jail, then damn it, we’re going to go all in.”

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After Standing Rock, protesting pipelines can get you a decade in prison and $100K in fines

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Washington and Nevada join the swelling list of states aiming for 100% clean power

The peer pressure to clean up the electric grid is gripping the country.

Recent weeks have brought a flurry of ambitious clean-energy pledges. On Earth Day, Nevada’s governor signed into law a measure banning fossil-fuel generated electricity by 2050. Washington’s legislature just sent a bill to Governor Jay Inslee (the presidential contender) that would have the Evergreen State running on purely carbon-free electricity by 2030. Last month, New Mexico committed to 100 percent clean electricity by 2045. California, Hawaii, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, passed similar laws a bit further back. There are similar bills pending in Illinois, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Florida, and Massachusetts. And don’t forget the 100-odd cities —  from Orlando, Florida to Pueblo, Colorado — that have vowed to kick their fossil-fuel addiction.

“Voters and state legislatures are being pretty darn clear that there’s widespread support for getting the electricity sector to 100 percent clean,” said Josh Freed, who runs the energy program at the Third Way think tank in Washington, D.C. “In our wildest expectations, we couldn’t have anticipated this much action this quickly.”

It’s a seismic shift from the 1990s and 2000s, when states made goals to get get a certain share of their electricity from renewable power. Those laws were designed to help the nascent renewables industry find its footing, Freed said. Now that the industry is up and running, “the next question is, how do we get carbon off the grid?”

That’s why everyone seems to be excited about the same goal. And this isn’t just the flavor of the month — there’s a good reason to focus on a carbon-free electric system. Though there are still hurdles to leap, states basically know how to eliminate emissions from the electrical grid, said Mike O’Boyle, head of electricity policy at the think tank Energy Innovation in San Francisco. You can’t say the same about eliminating emissions from air-travel or concrete production, at least not yet. So squeezing the greenhouse gases out of electricity is a clearly achievable goal. And there are beneficial knock-on effects: It paves the way to clean up transportation (by switching to electric vehicles) and buildings (by switching to electric heating and cooling).

“It think its a robust and meaningful trend,” O’Boyle said. “A lot of gubernatorial candidates, and presidential candidates, have campaigned on 100-percent clean electricity. It’s become part of the conventional wisdom that it’s a realistic and effective policy goal.”

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Washington and Nevada join the swelling list of states aiming for 100% clean power

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Scientists say that human-caused climate change rerouted a river.

Raj Karmani was a graduate student in computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign when his frequent trips to the neighborhood bagel store opened his eyes to food waste. Most of the unsold bagels usually went into the trash. Karmani’s obsession with efficiency got him thinking: What if there were an app that would sync up businesses with fresh, excess food and organizations in need of it? In 2013, he started Zero Percent, an online platform for food donation.

Here’s how it works: First, a food producer at a commercial kitchen, say a restaurant or bagel shop, opens an Uber-style app and drops in detailed data about the excess food: the amount, where to pick it up, when to pick it up, etc. Then, a delivery person, hired by Zero Percent, scoops up the food and drops it off at any number of youth groups, community centers, or nonprofits that have also signed up for the app and signaled a need.

Right now, Zero Percent operates in the Chicago area and in Urbana-Champaign (but plans to expand), and its biggest clients include the University of Illinois and the local Salvation Army. Karmani says Zero Percent has delivered more than 1,000 meals. As a well-educated and relatively well-off immigrant, the experience has been eye-opening for him. “Some of these kids have never seen strawberries.”

Meet all the fixers on this year’s Grist 50.

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Scientists say that human-caused climate change rerouted a river.

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A Guy Who Exists Purely to Troll the Humane Society Was Just Hired by Donald Trump

Mother Jones

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Update (12/13/2016): The buzz around Heidi Heitkamp as USDA chief continues to dissipate—Politico reports that “Donald Trump’s closest rural advisers are trying to torpedo” the push to choose her; and speculation that she would turn down the offer anyway is mounting. Meanwhile, Breitbart News, a far-right online journal whose former executive chair is a top Trump adviser, is pushing Rep. Timothy A. Huelskamp (R-Kansas), who lost his primary race this year and will soon be available for a new job. Huelskamp, a Tea Party stalwart, would represent quite a departure from Heitkamp.

Like a calf lurching about a rodeo field to evade a rope, President-elect Donald Trump transition has taken a chaotic course. And nowhere is that truer than at the US Department of Agriculture, the sprawling agency that oversees everything from food-aid programs to farm policy to food safety at meat inspection plants.

On Saturday, Politico reiterated a rumor that’s been circulating for weeks that Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) is Trump’s likely pick to take the USDA helm. Wait, a Democrat? She was a big supporter of the 2014 reauthorization of the farm bill, the twice-a-decade legislation that shapes US food and ag policy. While like all farm bill since the 1980s, this one was generally Big Ag friendly, Heitkamp supported some measures that contradict meat-industry interests, which seem to hold plenty of sway at Trump Tower. She took credit for “beating back efforts to repeal Country of Origin Labeling,” which tells consumers where their meat is raised and is hated by big meat-packing companies. She also helped fend off an effort to kill the farm bill’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards (GIPSA) Act rules, which charge the USDA with curbing the market power big meat packers can deploy against farmers. Nor has Heitkamp particularly been a magnet for ag-industry cash, though she has only run one campaign for federal office. But she’s a conventional Democratic farm-state senator, not an ag radical.

Choosing a centrist Democrat like Heitkamp would be quite a departure from earlier versions of Trump’s USDA short list, which included wild cards like Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, who unapologetically shares fake news stories on his office’s Facebook page and once tried to bill taxpayers for a trip to take medical procedure called a Jesus shot. Charles Herbster has also appeared as a prime candidate for USDA chief— a man who currently runs a a multilevel marketing operation (a highly controversial business model that relies on a network of individual “distributors” to sell products) and who finances and helps lead a Big Ag federal super PAC also funded by Monsanto, DuPont, Archer Daniels Midland, and other agribusiness giants.

Indeed, a day before the Politico piece hailing Heitkamp as the likely pick, Trump had veered in a quite different direction, announcing a new member of the team overseeing the transition of the USDA: Brian Klippenstein, executive director of a group called Protect the Harvest. The brainchild of Forest Lucas—a right-wing oil magnate and cattle rancher who has himself emerged as a contender to serve as Trump’s secretary of the interior—Protect the Harvest seems to exist mainly to troll the Humane Society of the United States.

On its website, Protect the Harvest warns that HSUS seeks to “put an end to animal ownership.” This is nonsense—the Humane Society is by no means coming for your furry friend. Its website features “tools you need to help the pets in your home and beyond.” I asked Paul Shapiro, vice president for farm-animal protection at HSUS, whether his group opposes the keeping of pets. “That would certainly be news to the vast numbers of our staff who bring their dogs to work here,” he replied.

Protect the Harvest’s real beef with HSUS appears to be that the group promotes legislation that curtails some of the harsher aspects of factory-scale animal farming. The two groups recently clashed over a Massachusetts ballot measure this fall to ban tight cages in egg and pork production. Lucas personally donated nearly $200,0000 to defeat the measure, and Klippenstein actively campaigned against it. The measure passed with overwhelming support on Nov. 8.

Protect the Harvest’s zeal to fight regulation of animal farming extends even to “puppy mills“—large facilities that churn out dogs like factory farms churn out pigs. Back in 2010, the year Protect the Harvest was founded, it vigorously opposed a Missouri ballot measure to “require large-scale dog breeding operations to provide each dog under their care with sufficient food, clean water, housing and space; necessary veterinary care; regular exercise and adequate rest between breeding cycles”; and “prohibit any breeder from having more than 50 breeding dogs for the purpose of selling their puppies as pets.”

Klippenstein isn’t the only member of Trump’s USDA transition team. Recall that back in November, Trump picked a lobbyist whose client’s include Little Ceasar’s Pizza, the soda and smack industries, and the Illinois Soybean Association to lead the agency’s transition. He soon abruptly quit after Trump announced a ban on registered lobbyists serving in the transition.

But then, a few days later, Trump tapped Joel Leftwich, Republican staff director for the Senate Agriculture Committee, to help lead the USDA transition. Leftwich took the Senate job in 2015—after having spent the previous three years as the director government affairs for Pepsi. In 2010—just before another stint on the Senate ag committee staff—Leftwich had worked as a lobbyist for seed/chemical giant DuPont. In other words, Team Trump pushed out a current lobbyist for Big Soda and Big Ag—only to replace him with a guy who basically lives in the revolving door between government and agribusiness, and whose latest turn as a lobbyist ended way back in 2015.

So basically, we’ve got a two-time industry lobbyist and an anti-animal-welfare zealot teaming up to choose the next USDA chief.

What that means for the prospect of Heitkamp taking the USDA reins is unclear. She narrowly won her North Dakota Senate seat in 2012, and Trump won the state in 2016 with 63 percent of the vote. As a Democrat, she faces a hard fight for re-election in 2018, which may be why she agreed to meet with Trump on Dec. 2, in what was widely read a job interview. If she exits the Senate now, North Dakota would have to hold a special election to replace her, and the winner would almost certainly be a Republican. On Monday, Sen. Harry Reid (D.-Nevada), the soon-to-retire former Democratic leader of the Senate, sought to throw water on the Heitkamp-to-USDA rumor, telling CNN that “I would doubt very seriously” that she’d agree to join the Trump administration. Whether he has knowledge of Heitkamp’s intentions, or is just hoping to keep a Senate seat in the party fold, is unclear.

But as a centrist Dem, she seems like a bit of vanilla pick, given the characters who are running Trump’s USDA transition.

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A Guy Who Exists Purely to Troll the Humane Society Was Just Hired by Donald Trump

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How One Plan to Bring Undocumented Immigrants out of the Shadows Could Get Them Deported

Mother Jones

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Since 2015, California has issued about 800,000 licenses to drivers who lack proof of legal residence. In Illinois, more than 212,000 people have received what are known as temporary visitor driver’s licenses. Connecticut has approved around 26,000 drive-only licenses for undocumented immigrants, and nine more states plus the District of Columbia have similar programs.

To date, these initiatives have been widely hailed as a reasonable way to try to improve public safety, by helping make sure that everyone behind the wheel was a competent driver. But now, with the incoming Trump administration seemingly committed to deporting undocumented individuals, there is worry among immigration advocates that the identifying data collected as part of these programs—names, addresses, copies of foreign passports—could be used by federal authorities looking to send people back to their home countries.

Last month, Trump said he would deport or incarcerate as many as 3 million undocumented immigrants who have criminal records. A 10-point immigration plan on Trump’s transition website lists “zero tolerance for criminal aliens,” along with a promise to “ensure that other countries take their people back when we order them deported.” The plan also calls for blocking funding for so-called “sanctuary cities” that historically have limited their cooperation with federal immigration agents.

“The discussion up to this point has been hypothetical or theoretical, and now it’s feeling very real,” said Jonathan Blazer, advocacy and policy counsel for the ACLU. “People start to think, ‘Are things going to look completely different than they’ve ever looked before, in terms of what the federal government might try to do?'”

Nothing in federal law specifically entitles immigration agents access to state data on drivers who may be in the country illegally, according to Blazer. To get states to produce a list of these drivers, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement—which includes the federal government’s deportation arm—might have to rely on its administrative subpoena power. Even then, states could refuse to provide the information, thereby forcing the federal government to sue for the driver data or narrow its request, Blazer and other legal experts said.

“If ICE just came and said, ‘Hey, give me all your driving privilege card holders, ‘I would say, ‘No,’ and they would have to take some sort of different legal action that is beyond my control,” said Scott Vien, the director of Delaware’s Division of Motor Vehicles, which has so far issued about 3,500 driving credentials to undocumented immigrants. Some of the records they maintain include copies of birth certificates, foreign passports and consular identification cards.

Uncertainty already surrounds the fate of more than 700,000 undocumented immigrants who first arrived in the United States as children, and who obtained temporary reprieves from deportation through a 2012 executive action of President Barack Obama. In applying to the program, these individuals submitted all sorts of personal information to the federal government, including home addresses and the names of family members. Immigrants and their advocates now fear that this information could be turned over to federal immigration officials after Obama leaves office, for use in tracking down undocumented individuals.

Driving records, it is now clear, constitute another vast store of data on US residents who may not be residing in the country legally. In all, more than 1 million licenses meant for people without proof of legal immigration status have been issued across the country.

There have already been some instances of ICE seeking to get and use driver’s license information in bulk from states that do not have the special programs for the undocumented—New Jersey among them. In 2012, ICE’s Newark field office obtained from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission a list of people who had applied for restricted licenses using valid but temporary immigration documents. An initial review “resulted in the identification of numerous foreign-born individuals who fall under ICE priorities,” according to an April 2012 letter from the field office director, who also requested that New Jersey continue to supply updated lists.

That same year, the Atlanta field office proposed gaining access to the names of foreign-born residents with temporary driver’s licenses, as well as lists of rejected license applications, as part of its efforts to achieve that year’s “criminal-alien removal target.” That DMV project was not implemented, according to an ICE official’s email from 2014, which was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the National Immigration Law Center.

The Illinois secretary of state’s office has said it cannot guarantee the safety of temporary license applicants’ information from federal immigration authorities. If the office receives a “legally valid request” for information on license applicants who lack proof of legal residence, it will comply, according to an FAQ published by the state earlier this year.

“If ICE did come to us with a subpoena, we’d probably have to go and get a legal opinion, from the attorney general,” said Dave Druker, a spokesman for the Illinois secretary of state’s office. “It hasn’t happened yet.”

The state has had a problem with protecting applicant information before. About three years ago, an employee of the secretary of state’s office alerted ICE about an undocumented immigrant who had applied for a temporary license. The applicant was then apprehended upon showing up at a state office for an appointment in February 2014. Due in part to outcry from immigrant rights advocates following the incident, the state has said it will no longer proactively volunteer information to ICE about temporary license seekers, as long as they do not have any records of felony criminal activity or appear on any terrorism watch list.

“In order to find out the legality, someone needs to be willing to sue, and because of data sharing and how it operates, a lot of times it’s going to require a political actor to do that—a state, a locality,” said Mark Fleming, the national litigation coordinator for the National Immigrant Justice Center. “That’s often a political decision for a lot of elected officials.”

ICE already enjoys limited access to basic state driver’s license information through a law enforcement data exchange network called Nlets. However, the information ICE can see wouldn’t necessarily give away someone’s immigration status.

In California, any driver’s license information that the state makes available to law enforcement agencies through data-sharing systems does not indicate whether the driver provided evidence of legal immigration status, according to Artemio Armenta, a spokesman for the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

In the Illinois system, however, there’s a potential giveaway: Driver data for a regular license includes a Social Security number, whereas temporary license records will list a consular card or foreign passport number instead.

Other states that offer driving privileges to undocumented individuals include Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Vermont. In Washington state, no resident has to provide evidence of legal presence or citizenship to obtain a standard license. Even so, many immigrants who lack proof of legal residence face a dilemma in deciding whether or not to take advantage of these programs and apply for driving credentials.

“People can’t be afraid to get the license that would enable them to learn the rules of the road and hold them accountable for driving,” said Tanya Broder, a senior staff attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. At the same time, “we’ve told people that if they’re at high risk, if they don’t want to be seen or found, that the DMV database makes them easier to find.”

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How One Plan to Bring Undocumented Immigrants out of the Shadows Could Get Them Deported

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Hackers Stole Voter Registration Data in at Least Two States

Mother Jones

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The FBI believes hackers tried to get data from the State Board of Elections in at least two states in July and August, according to a notice sent to elections officials around the country and published by Yahoo News Monday morning. It’s unclear what data the hackers were able to get, but the information suggests they scanned the state elections boards’ websites looking for vulnerabilities. They found several and attempted to enter the systems, and some “exfiltration”—which refers to theft of data—occurred.

On August 18, state elections officials received a “Flash,” a notice sent by the FBI to various relevant parties, titled “Targeting Activity Against State Board of Election Systems.” The FBI reported that it had received reports of an additional IP address—a unique series of numbers that identifies every device that connects to the internet—within the logs of one state’s board of election’s system in July, and then another attempt at breaking into a separate state’s system in August. The IP address numbers can be easily masked to hide an attacker’s true origin, but the flash included detailed information about the methods used by the hackers. The FBI asked state election officials to scan their own network logs for similar activities.

The FBI didn’t identify the states involved, but Yahoo News, citing “sources familiar with” the FBI flash, reports that the attacks likely targeted voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois. In Illinois, state election officials shut down the state’s voter registration system for 10 days in late July, Yahoo News reports, while the attack in Arizona was more limited.

The FBI flash does not attribute the attacks to anyone specifically, but the revelation comes following recent hacks of the Democratic National Committee and other major Democratic Party organizations and officials that, the US government says, implicated hackers working with or on behalf of Russia. The hacker who has claimed responsibility for the DNC hacks, Guccifer 2.0, has told Mother Jones and others that he was born in Eastern Europe and is not at all connected to Russia, a claim doubted by outside security officials. Russian officials have repeatedly denied that the Russian government had anything to do with the hacks.

The IP addresses provided by the FBI in the flash point to computer systems in the Netherlands and Delaware, according to online IP tracking tools, but Wired says further analysis shows at least one of the IP addresses appears to be linked to a website linked with the Turkish AKP political party. The Yahoo News report cites a cybersecurity expert saying one of the IP addresses has “surfaced before in Russian criminal underground hacker forums,” and the attack methods resemble a hack of the World Anti-Doping Agency earlier this month. Others have blamed that hack on Russia as well. But the types of attacks, methods, and tools detailed by the FBI flash are quite common in the hacking world. That means blaming Russia or anybody else at this point is only speculative.

The hack, combined with other vulnerabilities in the American election infrastructure, including voting machines that produce no verifiable paper audit trail, reinforces the notion that the US election system is vulnerable to disruption.

“This is a big deal,” Rich Barger, the head of cybersecurity firm ThreatConnect, told Yahoo News. “Two state election boards have been popped and data has been taken. This certainly should be concerning to the common American voter.”

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Hackers Stole Voter Registration Data in at Least Two States

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Donald Trump Roundup For Tuesday Evening

Mother Jones

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I just got back from dinner. I wonder if there’s any breaking Donald Trump news? Well, now, let’s just—oh my:

Jesus Christ. The Trumpsters are still going after the Khans? Does anyone else have anything to say about the death of Captain Khan in Iraq?

“It was under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that changed the rules of engagement that probably cost his life,” spokeswoman Katrina Pierson said in an interview Tuesday with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer. Khan died during the presidency of George W. Bush, while Obama was a state senator in Illinois.

Did any other other Trump surrogates melt down today? How about that Corey guy that CNN hired, the one who assaulted a reporter. Has he said any—oh God, no. Not that:

And how about Trump himself? How did he do in his Washington Post interview today? It sounds like he was a little distracted:

Trump looks at a nearby television, which was tuned to Fox News.

Trump looks up at the television

Trump watches himself on TV

Looks at the television again Look at this. It’s all Trump all day long.

Trump looks at the TV.

That’s our Donald. Aside from checking himself out on TV, though, he also made time to tell the world that he wouldn’t endorse Paul Ryan, John McCain, or Kelly Ayotte in their primary races. What do other Republicans think about this? How about you, Reince Priebus? You’re the head of the Republican National Committee. Any thoughts about Trump declining to support the Republican Speaker of the House?

Anyone else?

Meg Whitman joins chorus of Republicans supporting Hillary Clinton

Meg Whitman, the Hewlett-Packard chief executive who ran unsuccessfully for governor of California in 2010, will back Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, joining other prominent Republicans troubled by Donald Trump’s candidacy.

….Sally Bradshaw, an influential GOP strategist in Florida who advised former Gov. Jeb Bush during his primary campaign, announced Monday that she would leave the party. A day later, Maria Comella, a top former advisor to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, also called Trump a demagogue and signaled her support for Clinton.

And that’s a wrap for Tuesday. See you in the morning.

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Donald Trump Roundup For Tuesday Evening

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African-American Gun Ownership Is Up, and So Is Wariness

Mother Jones

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The video that made the rounds following the police shooting of Philando Castile, a black man shot during a traffic stop in a Minnesota suburb last week, sparked outrage on social media and international protests over the weekend. According to Castile’s fiancé, who shot and narrated the video, Castile was reaching for his ID when he was shot, after he had informed the officer he was armed and had a permit to carry. The shooting, and other cases like it, has sparked concern among black gun owners, and questions about whether the Second Amendment is being applied equally to them. “It terrifies me,” the founder of the Dallas-based Huey P. Newton Gun Club, which advocates black gun ownership, told the New York Times.

The number of black Americans who own guns appears to be on the rise. According to a 2014 Pew survey, 19 percent of black adults said they owned a gun, up from 15 percent in 2013. In another 2014 survey, 54 percent of black adults said they believed owning a gun makes people safer. Two years earlier, only 29 percent said so.

Black Americans have historically been the target of black codes and Jim Crow laws aimed at disarming them, notes Philip Smith, founder of the National African American Gun Association. He attributes the ownership increase to several factors. Many blacks, he says, are simply feeling the need to protect themselves against violent crime. (Black Americans are more likely to be the victim of a gun homicide than are members of other ethnic groups.) Fear of terrorism also comes into play, he says—the reasons, he adds, vary by sub-demographic—single women, married fathers, rural vs urban, etc.

Smith launched his organization in Atlanta in February 2015. It now boasts more than 11,000 members, he says, and has chapters or groups interested in forming one in about a dozen states—65 percent of the members are women. Before, it was, “‘Don’t get a gun because you can kill yourself’ or ‘your kids can hurt themselves.’ But people are saying, ‘Hold on, if I’m in a home by myself at five o’clock in the morning and someone comes banging through my door to rob and kill my family, the police are not going to make it there in enough time. So I need to be able to deal with that threat.'”

Smith, who has a concealed carry permit, says he has been pulled over more than once while carrying a gun. He told the officers that he was carrying, and there were no problems. But he’s certainly aware of encounters that did not go so smoothly. “I’ve seen situations on YouTube and stories on the internet and in newspapers where people had been in situations like mine where they say, ‘Get out of the car! Put your hands on the hood!’ They arrest you or put you in the back of the car, they take your gun, and they run your gun. It can go a thousand ways.”

Another encounter that went south took place in Florida one night last October, when Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja approached 31-year-old Corey Jones, whose vehicle had broken down on a highway exit ramp late at night. Raja, who didn’t identify himself as a cop, was dressed in plain clothes and driving an unmarked police van. He opened fire after Jones, likely unaware that he was dealing with law enforcement, allegedly drew a gun on Raja, according to the Associated Press. Jones also had a concealed carry permit. (The officer was charged with manslaughter and attempted murder, the AP reported.) Jones’ family published an open letter to Castile’s parents last week, reading in part, “Your son’s life mattered. Our son’s life mattered.”

After watching the Castile shooting video, Smith told me, he will no longer tell an officer who pulls him over that he is armed. “I keep my gun on my hip. They don’t know I have it there anyway. Give me my ticket and I’m on my way,” he says. “I don’t want to add any layer of additional pressure to that situation when I interact with the cops.”

A 2015 study by researchers at the University of Illinois found that people will shoot at images of armed black men more quickly than images of armed men of other races, and take more time to decide not to shoot when presented with an image of an unarmed black man. More recent data suggests that black people are no more likely to be shot by an officer than white people, although cops are more likely to use other kinds of force against African Americans.

Robin Wright, who studies implicit bias at Ohio State University, told the New York Times that black gun owners face negative perceptions about their intent. “It’s really just getting at what we know to be a pervasive stereotype of blackness and criminality,” she said. “If you see a black person with a weapon, you don’t assume that it’s legal.”

Racial bias may also have played a role in the police shootings of 12-year-old Tamir Rice and 22-year-old John Crawford in separate Ohio incidents in 2014. Both were carrying toy guns, and were shot even though Ohio is an open carry state. (Another black man, Jermaine McBean, was shot in 2013 while walking through his Broward County, Florida, apartment complex carrying a toy rifle.)

In a CNN interview, Castile’s mother said that on the day before her son was shot, her daughter—who also has a concealed carry permit—expressed concern about carrying a gun because the police might “shoot first and ask questions later.” Smith told the Times over the weekend that black gun owners need to be aware of the racial dynamics, but that that shouldn’t deter them from exercising their right to bear arms: “If I went around worrying about what everybody’s thinking as I’m carrying a gun on my hip,” he said. “I would go crazy.”

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African-American Gun Ownership Is Up, and So Is Wariness

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How to Start Your Own Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) Business

You share bumper crops of tomatoes and peppers with the neighbors, turn berries into jam, and bake countless loaves of zucchini bread to keep fresh produce from going to waste. Whether youre an experienced gardener eager to share the harvest or a homesteader looking to make a profit from your backyard bounty, starting a CSA might be the answer.

CSA stands for community-supported agriculture. Farmers use this model to sell shares of their harvest to supporters. In exchange for a flat fee paid upfront, subscribers receive weekly (or bi-weekly) boxes of produce throughout the season that can be picked up at predetermined locations at set times.

Growers benefit from having guaranteed income and capital to purchase seeds and other supplies, and subscribers get access to a diverse array of fresh fruits and vegetables for an entire growing season.

While the CSA model is popular, you should know a few things before signing up subscribers.

Preparing for Success

Starting a CSA is not an undertaking for beginning gardeners. Subscribers purchase shares with the expectation of receiving fresh produce all season long, which means you need the experience to deliver.

A CSA is a business, and its important to consider the following issues.

Check local zoning laws:On a farm, it might not be a problem to have subscribers stopping by to pick up their shares. If your garden or homestead is in a residential neighborhood (or subject to HOA rules), on-site distribution might be prohibited. If this is the case, arrange for an alternate pickup location. A local farm-to-table restaurant may agree to allow subscribers to collect their shares there; delivering shares is another option. Youll also need to check with the city or county to determine whether you need a business license to sell fruits and vegetables.

Establish Agreements:Some CSA operators have written agreements for subscribers spelling out the price of the share, the length of the season, what is included with each share, and pickup times and locations.

Its also a good idea to outline some of the risks in a written agreement. Some crops may fail, and others may exceed expectations; subscribers need to understand that their shares could include a lot of kale and no tomatoes and that subscribing to a CSA means taking on a share of the risk. A University of Illinois professor of agricultural law developed a model CSA agreement that is available as a free download.

Put Safety First:Make sure you understand and follow state and federal guidelines for safe food handling and storage.

Cover Your Assets:Research insurance options. You want to be covered if a subscriber gets sick from something in their CSA share or gets injured while picking up their produce from the garden.

Planning the Harvest

The success of a CSA depends on good planning. Subscribers will expect to receive equal amounts of produce throughout the season, not a few heads of lettuce in the spring, dozens of vegetable varieties in the summer, and a handful of turnips in the fall.

CSAs often operate for 20 weeks; most also offer 10-week (or half-season) shares. Plan to have multiple crops available throughout the season.

As a general rule, each share should contain 10 to 20 pounds of fruits and vegetables. To provide a diverse array of produce, aim to harvest between five and 12 different types of produce each week. Use these numbers to plan the number of available shares your garden can accommodate.

Consider planting multiple varieties of the same type of vegetable. Some tomato varieties make great slicers, others are perfect for sauces and canning, and some, such as purple, black, or striped varieties, are just offbeat enough to wow subscribers. Dont forget about herbs, which offer a nice complement to fresh produce.

To help with planning, consider using an online tool. The Old Farmers Almanac Smart Gardener and Mother Earth News both offer online planners that show sowing and harvesting times based on hardiness zones to help ensure an impressive array of crops in each weeks share.

Setting the Price

The cost per share should be fair for subscribers, and it should provide enough capital to cover your costs.

The most basic method of establishing the cost per share is estimating the market price of the produce included in an average share and multiplying it by the number of weeks in a share. In other words, if a subscriber would spend $20 at the farmers market to purchase an equivalent amount of produce included in one weekly box, set the price at $200 for a half share (10 weeks) and $400 for a full share (20 weeks).

Do some quick calculations to ensure that the cost per share is enough to cover the cost of soil, seeds, and other supplies while providing a fair income for the work that goes into growing vegetables as well as marketing and managing the CSA.

Recruiting Subscribers

Once the number of available shares is calculated, its time to sign up subscribers.

Spread the word about the CSA to friends, neighbors, and co-workers; post on social media; and create flyers that include the share price, length of the season, and what types of produce will be available. Dont forget to include information about how people can sign up!

As the CSA grows, consider starting a newsletter that includes updates on the crops, photos, recipes, and information about washing, storing, and preserving produce in weekly boxes.

Maintaining Momentum

Operating a CSA is a lot of work. The good news is that you dont have to operate solo.

Some farms offer a discount on shares in exchange for volunteer labor. While an extra set of hands might sound appealing, subscribers might not be well versed in growing vegetables, and they could need a lot of direction and training to be of value; keep this in mind before inviting subscribers to work for food. A better bet is partnering with another homesteader or experienced backyard gardener to trade responsibilities and share revenues.

Co-operating a CSA can also mean expanding the types of products included in the share. If a neighbor raises chickens or bees, you could supplement the fresh produce youre growing with eggs or honey from their homestead.

At the end of the season, ask subscribers to fill out a survey about their experience. The information you gather can help you plan crops, tweak pick-up times or locations, and adjust pricing or share sizes before the next season.

Source: Fix.com

Written by Jodi Helmer. Reposted with permission from Fix.com.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How to Start Your Own Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) Business

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Breaking: Pop Megastar Prince Has Died at 57

Mother Jones

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Prince, the legendary pop icon, was found dead at his Paisley Park home in Minnesota, a publicist told the Associated Press on Thursday. He was 57. TMZ first reported the death.

The police were investigating a death at Prince’s estate on Thursday morning but have not made the identity of the deceased person public. Last week, the musician’s private plane made an emergency stop in Moline, Illinois, after performances in Atlanta. A representative for Prince told TMZ that the musician had been battling the flu for several weeks, though the exact cause of death has yet to be confirmed.

Prince’s publicist Yvette Noel-Schure noted in a statement that there were “no further details as to the cause of death at this time.”

Fellow musicians, artists, and celebrities took to social media to mourn the soulful singer’s death.

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Breaking: Pop Megastar Prince Has Died at 57

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