Category Archives: Nevada politics

Switch Board Alternatives for Northern Nevadans

Finding the Congressional switch board a little jammed up? Nevadans can contact Senator Dean Heller at 202-224-6244.  Representative Amodei can be reached at his DC office 202-225-6155, in Reno at 775-686-5760, or in Elko at 775-777-7705.

During this first 100 days let’s make sure our representatives know how we feel about the pressing issues of the day. And no, it’s not how big the inaugural crowd was.

It’s more about the Trumpster Executive Order allowing a flood of uncertainty into the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. It’s about cabinet officials who are “foxes for every henhouse.”

At the risk of redundancy  —

Join. Find an organization that fits your views, if you can find more organizations please do so.

Read. These organizations have advisory sheets, and campaigns to advance the goals. These can be very useful.

“All politics is local.” If you can attend local government meetings please do so. If you think you might be interested in running for local offices start gathering information about the offices and the local elections.  If there are local chapters of your favorite organizations atrend their meetings if you are not already doing so.

Please do what you can, for as many as you can.

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Filed under Nevada politics, Politics

Who loses their ACA marketplace health insurance in Nevada?

Interesting numbers from the Kaiser Family Foundation on the people in Nevada’s congressional districts who have health insurance through the ACA exchange.

District 1, represented by Rep. Dina Titus (D) as of December 2016, about 19,300.

District 3, represented by Rep. Jackie Rosen (D), 19,300.

District 4, represented by Rep. Rubin Kihuen (D), 18,700

And, the District with the most people who stand to lose their marketplace coverage with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act?  District 2, represented by Rep. Mark Amodei  (R) with 22,500 who have purchased their insurance through the ACA exchange.

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Filed under Amodei, health insurance, nevada health, Nevada politics, Politics

Quick note: $29,400

That $29,400 figure is the new average student debt, via NPR.  Money spent paying off student debt is money not spent on transportation, clothing, housing, and other basic elements of the economy. It’s rising, and the question is whether there’s the political will to do something about it.

Meanwhile,  the technical issues persist so posts will be short. Thanks for your patience.

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Filed under education, Nevada politics, Politics

Bait Switch Switch Bait: Trump’s Wall

It’s not like the discussion of immigration is some theoretical exercise in Nevada; the population is 28.1% Hispanic (as of 2015.)  Discussions about “building a wall” present blatantly white supremacist imagery to some and a direct threat to the familial security of others. 

Along this spectrum there are economic concerns (they take jobs) although we know from economic studies immigration tends to create jobs. [Atlantic, Business Insider, AmImC] Also there’s a spectrum of anti-immigration fervor reaching back to the ages when “the French would spread their revolution,” the “Germans refused to speak English,” “No Irish Need Apply,” Italians, Jews, and Eastern Europeans were not to be trusted; and, the Chinese were to be excluded.  Trumpsterism taps into this egregious strain of American political thought and was manifest in “Build the Wall.”

The Something For Nothing crowd was also appeased by the notion that the Mexican government was somehow supposed to pay for this.  How much of this was an almost pure con job is well illustrated by comments made by candidate Trump back in January 2016:

“Mr. Trump invents his positions as he goes along. His supporters say they don’t care. What they may not know is how deliberately he is currying their favor. At a meeting with The Times’s editorial writers, Mr. Trump talked about the art of applause lines. “You know,” he said of his events, “if it gets a little boring, if I see people starting to sort of, maybe thinking about leaving, I can sort of tell the audience, I just say, ‘We will build the wall!’ and they go nuts.” [NYT]

Nuts they may have gone, but the Mexican government has made it clear since August 12, 2015 it has no intention of paying for any wall Trump may construct.  The Mexican government restated this point on November 9, 2016:

“Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu reiterated that Mexico would not pay for Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S. border. The threat that Mexico will pay for the wall was a key feature of his stump speeches.” [ADN]

As it became ever more obvious that the Mexican government wasn’t going to get out its check book, the Trump campaign offered other suggestions as to how “Mexico would pay.”

If the Mexican government refused to write a check for the wall, of say $5 to $10 billion, then the administration would include wire transfers as part of a plan to disallow monetary transfers from the U.S. to Mexico made by undocumented individuals.  The obvious problem with this approach is that there is nothing to prevent someone who is a legal resident or citizen of the U.S. from making the transfer.

“It’s an easy decision for Mexico: make a one-time payment of $5 (billion)-10 billion to ensure that $24 billion continues to flow into their country year after year,” Trump said on his campaign website.” [Politifact]

It’s just as easy a decision to have someone who is a citizen or legal resident facilitate the transfer.  It’s also unclear what percentage of the transfers are already made by those who are in this country perfectly legally, and what percentage comes from those who are without documents.

Okay, if this is fuzzy, then Trump added another element – fees.

“Trump said on his campaign website that he would generate money for the wall by increasing fees for visas and border crossing cards and by enforcing trade tariffs.Experts have told us there isn’t a connection between the U.S.-Mexico trade deficit (about $50 billion) and finding money for a wall.”  [Politifact]

There’s no connection between trade and “the wall” construction, and increasing fees for visas and border crossing cards isn’t likely to generate the kind of revenue needed to say “the Mexicans paid for it.”  Nor did the Trump campaign clarify that border crossing cards are also issued to Canadians.  Eventually we have to get to the matter of how much this proposal is going to cost – anyone or everyone.

If his followers had pictures of a “really high” precast concrete wall, they were shortly to be faced with a shrinking image.

“Trump has said the wall could cost $8 billion to $12 billion, be made of precast concrete, and rise 35 to 40 feet, or 50 feet, or higher. He’s said the wall doesn’t need to run the nearly 2,000 miles of the border, but half of that because of natural barriers.”  [Politifact]

Now it’s only half the 2000 mile border… pedestrian fencing costs range from $400,000 to $15.1 million per mile (average $3.9 million per mile) and vehicle fencing ranges from $200,000 to $1.8 million per mile. “Topography, type of fencing and materials used, land acquisitions and labor costs all impact costs per mile.” [Politifact] [GAO pdf]

By January 2017 the Wall was reduced to fencing.

“Most experts viewed such promises as unrealistic and impractical, and Trump himself sometimes allowed that the wall would not need to span the entire length of the border, thanks to natural barriers like rivers. After winning the election, he said he’d be open to stretches of fencing.”  [TPM]

Thus much for the precast concrete rising from 35 to 50 feet.  And, who’s going to pay for it? At the moment it’s the American taxpayer:

“Under the evolving plan, the Trump administration would rely on existing legislation authorizing fencing and other technology along the southern border. Congress would be asked to ensure that enough money is appropriated to take additional new steps — but would not pass a stand-alone bill authorizing a big new wall. CNN separately reported that Trump would ask Congress to appropriate US tax payer money to pay for the “wall”.” [TPM AP]

The evolution is almost complete. From Wall to Fence. From Mexico to U.S. taxpayer.  The president-elect intends to “negotiate” with the Mexican government about paying for it.  

“We’re going to get reimbursed,” Mr. Trump said during a brief telephone interview. “But I don’t want to wait that long. But you start, and then you get reimbursed.” [NYT]

He now says:

“In the interview, the president-elect insisted that Mexico would ultimately reimburse the United States. He said that payment would most likely emerge from his efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with the Mexican government.

“It’s going to be part of everything,” Mr. Trump said of the cost of building the wall. “We are going to be making a much better deal. It’s a deal that never should have been signed.” [NYT]

We already know that there’s no realistic connection between trade deficits and money to “build a wall,” or even to stretch a fence.  Here are a few of those previously cited experts:

“Trump’s connection of the trade deficit with a Mexican border fence is just nonsense,” said Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration expert at the libertarian Cato Institute. “Just because the Mexican economy has a trade surplus relative to the United States doesn’t mean the Mexican government has the resources to build a border wall. It would be like me threatening my neighbor to build a new fence or else I’ll stop shopping at Walmart.”  

Mark Perry, a University of Michigan professor and scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said the trade deficit is based mostly on trading and investment by private individuals and companies — not the government itself.

“It’s not like there is $54 billion sitting around somewhere in Mexico, like a magic pile of dollars, that could be used to build a wall,” he said.

The Mexican government does not have adequate funds to pay for health, education or roads — much less build a wall, said Gary Hufbauer of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a think tank that analyzes globalization.

“The trade surplus does not represent money in some idle bank account controlled by the Mexican government,” he said.” [Politifact]

What are we going to do? “Stretch a Fence!” Who’s going to pay for it? We are!

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Filed under Immigration, Nevada, Nevada politics

Power To The People: Unless The People Don’t Toe the NRA Line

I do so love the Tea Party Darlings, like Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who spout platitudes like “popular will,” and “freedom” until it actually comes around to people expressing a “will” and exercising their “freedom” in ways the National Rifle Association doesn’t approve.

Nevada voters approved Question One (pdf)  in the 2016 election.  The initiative requires background checks for gun sales in the state.  558,631 Nevada citizens voted in favor of the question; 548,732 did not. The Question passed.   Now, the “will of the people” isn’t quite enough for the State Attorney General to follow  along.  No sooner did the initiative pass than the AG was releasing an opinion that it could not be enforced [RGJ] in spite of the fact that there are other states with similar laws which have found ways to work with the FBI to keep their streets and communities safer.

And, the story continues in a January missive to the AG:

“We are gravely concerned that Mr. Laxalt misused and misinterpreted the power and duties of the Office of Attorney General,” Wynn and Jones wrote in the letter to the governor. “For these reasons, we write to request that you uphold the enforcement of this law irrespective of your opinion of this law.”

In their missive to Laxalt, the campaign leaders wrote: “Nevadans elected you Attorney General because they trusted you to fulfill the sacred duty of all our elected representatives to implement and enforce our state’s laws. It is well-known that you actively – and visibly – opposed this new law. However, the election is over and now it is your responsibility to implement a policy supported by a majority of your constituents because they know it will make our state safer.”

As I suspected, this is far from over — politically and legally. [Ralston]

There’s a kernel of truth herein:  No election is ever final IF the National Rifle Association and its hand-maiden (in the Margaret Atwood sense of the term) Republican Party, aren’t satisfied with the results.

Mr. Laxalt took the oath prescribed by the state of Nevada in 2015:

  I, ……………………., do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, protect and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States, and the Constitution and government of the State of Nevada, against all enemies, whether domestic or foreign, and that I will bear true faith, allegiance and loyalty to the same, any ordinance, resolution or law of any state notwithstanding, and that I will well and faithfully perform all the duties of the office of ……………., on which I am about to enter; (if an oath) so help me God; (if an affirmation) under the pains and penalties of perjury.

Well and truly performing the duties of the office of Attorney General means implementing and enforcing the laws of the state… even if he doesn’t necessarily like them.  It’s a dangerous precedent to set when an elected official decides which laws are practical and which are not.  Note: The AG isn’t saying Question One is unconstitutional. He’s saying he can’t enforce it.  And he can’t enforce it because he’s not actively cooperating with federal agencies to do so.

And, yes, it may well take litigation to force the Attorney General of the state of Nevada to do his job if that means bucking the NRA and its Tea Party allies.   Thus much for Popular Will and Freedom from Corporate Interests.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada politics

Questions Remain About Nevada Crosscheck Program

I must admit I’m not fundamentally opposed to the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program – IF it will prevent Allistair Barrenfarm Gotrocks IV from rolling his Bentley to his convenient polling precinct in the Hamptons early on some fine election morning, then hopping into his Bombardier Global 8000 to his equally convenient polling station for his second home in Florida; while his absentee ballot is counted in his resort community of Ketchum, Idaho.  This, I could do without.  However…

As RollingStone magazine pointed out last August, this isn’t the ulterior purpose of the Crosscheck Program.   The process was supposed to have included names (including middle names and initials) birthdays, and Social Security numbers.   If the voting officials in a particular state don’t require the Social Security number, the birthday, and the middle name all that the Crosscheck list presents is a mass of very common names.  And, the bias begins:

“This inherent bias results in an astonishing one in six Hispanics, one in seven Asian-Americans and one in nine African-Americans in Crosscheck states landing on the list. Was the program designed to target voters of color? “I’m a data guy,” Swedlund says. “I can’t tell you what the intent was. I can only tell you what the outcome is. And the outcome is discriminatory against minorities.”  [RollingStone]

The response from Nevada, which participates in the Crosscheck program,  was a bit confusing.  A Nevada official replied to the Crosscheck question by saying:

“I can’t comment specifically on their study. What I can say is that in Nevada, we follow the federal and state procedures when it comes to removing voters from the rolls. We don’t look at a person’s name. We don’t actually collect demographic data on voters, so we don’t know race, ethnicity on any voters in our list.” [News4]

How can maintenance of up to date voter registration lists be done without looking at names? Either John P. Smith, of Henderson, NV has voted in the last two general elections – or he hasn’t.  He’s either been declared dead by Social Security officials – or he hasn’t.   The official from the Nevada Secretary of State’s office got a bit more specific:

“Wayne Thorley, Nevada’s deputy secretary of state for elections, counters that the program just matches data and doesn’t target anyone.
“Just because someone comes back as a match on the Interstate Crosscheck list, it doesn’t automatically trigger cancellation of their account,” he said. “And then, further investigation is done by the state.”
He said Nevada also uses the Electronic Registration Information Center to match names from the Crosscheck list with DMV records. Voters then get a postcard to verify their address and if they don’t respond and don’t vote in two elections, they’re dropped from the rolls.” [PNS.org]

It seems that names do matter?  However, there are still questions which might be raised about how the Crosscheck list is actually used in Nevada. For example:  What further investigation is done by the State?  Does this mean that the election officials just compare the voter registration with DMV records?   The NAC can provide us with a bit more clarification regarding how the Secretary of State’s office is to handle voter lists:

NAC 293.462  Verification of information by Secretary of State. (NRS 293.124, 293.675)  On each business day, the Secretary of State will check the contents of the statewide voter registration list by:

     1.  Determining whether any person is included as a registered voter in the statewide voter registration list more than once.

     2.  For every registered voter who submitted an application to register to vote on or after January 1, 2006, comparing the driver’s license number, identification card number or last four digits of the social security number of the voter set forth in the statewide voter registration list, if any, with the information in the appropriate database of the Department.

     (Added to NAC by Sec’y of State by R018-07, eff. 9-18-2008)”

At least Nevada officials must incorporate at least part of the Social Security number in the “investigation.”  But when we’re just starting to get comfortable there’s this section which isn’t quite so clear:

“NAC 293.466  Correction of inaccurate or duplicative information; casting of provisional ballot in certain circumstances. (NRS 293.124, 293.675)

     1.  If a county clerk receives notice from the Secretary of State or another county clerk that the statewide voter registration list contains information that is potentially inaccurate, duplicative or otherwise requiring verification, the county clerk shall, not later than 5 calendar days after receiving such notification, take such action as is necessary to correct the information in the statewide voter registration list and in the computerized database established pursuant to NAC 293.454.

     2.  If the county clerk is unable to obtain the correct information relating to the voter that is described in subsection 1 before the day of an election, the voter must show such identification before any ballot may be cast, except that a voter may cast a provisional ballot pursuant to the provisions of NRS 293.3081 to 293.3086, inclusive.

     (Added to NAC by Sec’y of State by R018-07, eff. 9-18-2008)”

What would make a state election official think a registration was ‘potentially inaccurate?’ Duplicative? “Otherwise requiring verification?”  If a Crosscheck list shows a John Paul Smith registered to vote in Richmond, VA and a John P. Smith registered to voter in Henderson, NV, then does this make John P. Smith liable for be investigated as “otherwise requiring verification?”  The Nevada Revised Statutes make this a little more clear:

“NRS 293.675  Establishment and maintenance of list; requirements pertaining to list; duties of county and city clerks; cooperative agreement with Department of Motor Vehicles; verification of information in conjunction with Social Security Administration; agreements with state agencies to obtain information necessary for list; information may be requested from or provided to chief election officers of other states.

      1.  The Secretary of State shall establish and maintain an official statewide voter registration list, which may be maintained on the Internet, in consultation with each county and city clerk.   2.  The statewide voter registration list must:

      (a) Be a uniform, centralized and interactive computerized list;

      (b) Serve as the single method for storing and managing the official list of registered voters in this State;

      (c) Serve as the official list of registered voters for the conduct of all elections in this State;

      (d) Contain the name and registration information of every legally registered voter in this State;

      (e) Include a unique identifier assigned by the Secretary of State to each legally registered voter in this State;

      (f) Except as otherwise provided in subsection 6, be coordinated with the appropriate databases of other agencies in this State;

      (g) Be electronically accessible to each state and local election official in this State at all times;

      (h) Except as otherwise provided in subsection 7, allow for data to be shared with other states under certain circumstances; and

      (i) Be regularly maintained to ensure the integrity of the registration process and the election process.”  (emphasis added)

If (e ) above requiring the unique verifier is applied then the probability that a person can be purged from voter registration lists is diminished, especially if this means both the full name and the Social Security number.  We’re still not quite out of the woods yet.

We’re still going to have to deal with domestic migration, especially in Clark County:

“People moving to Clark County from other places in the United States are at a five-year high, data released by the U.S. Census on Thursday show. The number of people moving into the county from within the U.S. outnumbered residents moving out from July 1, 2014, to July 1, 2015. The net increase, which has been rising for the past two years, was close to 25,000, with foreign migration accounting for an additional 8,000 new residents.

Clark County has grown incrementally over the last five years, rising from 0.7 percent growth in July 2011 to 2.2 percent growth in July 2015. What has changed is that domestic migration is driving that growth. Births minus deaths, or natural population change, once paralleled domestic migration numbers in the county from July 1, 2011, to July 1, 2013. The year before that, Clark County saw negative domestic migration. In the years following, domestic migration comprised most of the growth.”

[… ]  Just who are the new residents? January data of new Nevada driver’s license applicants show that a third, or 20,000, are from California followed by Texas and Florida at 3,000 each.

Perhaps more telling is that roughly half are in the 19-to-39 age range. Sure, some could be college students, but mostly, they are assumed to be part of the growing workforce that accompanies job growth.”  [LVRJ] (emphasis added)

The age range is important – 19-39, as in  eligible to vote.  How many “domestic migrants” to Nevada didn’t bother to tell California county clerks they moved, never intended to vote in a California election again, intended to be permanent residents in Nevada and register there?  The Didn’t Bother Factor drives some of the right wing conspiracy theories about the number of ineligible, i.e. potential duplicate, voters – particularly among the followers of Purger In Chief Kobach of Kansas:

“In January 2013, Kobach addressed a gathering of the National Association of State Election Directors about combating an epidemic of ballot-stuffing across the country. He announced that Crosscheck had already uncovered 697,537 “potential duplicate voters” in 15 states, and that the state of Kansas was prepared to cover the cost of compiling a nationwide list. That was enough to persuade 13 more states to hand over their voter files to Kobach’s office.”  [RS]

In the fevered minds of conspiracy theory advocates 697,537 “potential duplicate voters” is the same things as real ballot stuffing felons.  Some of these people are the same ones who believe “3,000,000 illegal votes were cast for Secretary Clinton in the last election.”  First, there was no epidemic of ballot stuffing across the country.  Secondly, this canard was spread by none other than Dick Morris, and promptly debunked. [Polifact]  Third, that didn’t stop the Federalist Society from climbing on board the “potential” fraud bandwagon citing conservative sources and 20 instances of fraudulent voter registration applications in Virginia.  Not actual voter fraud mind you, just fraudulent applications which obviously were caught. One of the more intriguing claims in the Federalist piece is that we can’t know how much voter fraud is going because people don’t report regular criminal behavior. Under reporting is not proof of criminal behavior, and arguments by analogy break down faster than just about any other form.

Since the Crosscheck program has been so problematic that Florida and Oregon have dropped it, and since the implementation of it has been plagued with the issues cited in the RollingStone article, Nevada should seriously consider dropping its participation.  Failing that, Nevada could consider specifying more clearly what the Unique Verifiers are in NRS 293.675 – requiring state election officials to compare middle names or at least initials, and Social Security numbers.   No county clerk’s office should be handed a list without the assurance of state officials that mistakes have not been made concerning ANY potential duplication.  The use of a faulty list to “improve election integrity” is self defeating and frankly makes no sense whatsoever.

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Filed under elections, Nevada politics, Vote Suppression, Voting

Amodei’s Fence Straddling: Science? No Science?

In his own, inimitable, fashion Congressman Mark Amodei (R-NV2) has encapsulated the wavering stance of those who don’t want to take any real action on climate change, but who’d like very much not to appear too much like the Inquisitors of Galileo.

“Amodei described himself as new to climate change issues and stopped short of endorsing the scientific consensus that rising global temperatures are driven by humans burning fossil fuels for energy.

But he said he will continue to gather research on the issue and added that facts should drive policy.

“It bugs me just as much when somebody starts out it is all BS as when somebody starts out the world is going to end tomorrow,” Amodei said. “If you are really going to be fact based then you need people who are going to argue both ways. You just don’t want a bunch of ‘yes’ people.” [RGJ]

First, Amodei noted that he didn’t think the request from the Trumpster transition team for a list of those Department of Energy employees who had worked on climate science projects was appropriate.  That’s good, because witch-hunts and purges have been notoriously counter productive.  Then come the excuses… “I’m new to the topic.”

This is analogous to “give me some time and I’ll get back to you.”

And, yes – facts should drive policy.  That would be scientific facts, not political ones.  Further, using the straw man technique doesn’t further even the political argument.  No one is saying “the world is going to end tomorrow.”  What scientists ARE saying is that there is concrete evidence that the increasing climate change is happening because of human activity.  These aren’t “yes men.” 

In fact, “The greater the climate expertise among those surveyed, the higher the consensus on human-caused global warming.”  [SSci]

What opponents of new energy sources and systems have been touting over the past few years is the MYTH of a lack of consensus:

“That’s why those who oppose taking action to curb climate change have engaged in a misinformation campaign to deny the existence of the expert consensus. They’ve been largely successful, as the public badly underestimate the expert consensus, in what we call the “consensus gap.” Only 16% of Americans realize that the consensus is above 90%.” [SSci]  (emphasis added)

Representative Amodei has firmly inserted himself into that mythological gap.  

On one side of his self constructed fence, he did co-sponsor the American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension, a bill which went to the House Ways and Means Committee, and then into oblivion.  On the other side, he co-sponsored the “Stop Green Initiative Abuse Act,” which amended the Energy Conservation and Production Act to repeal provisions of the Department of Energy’s weatherization assistance program for low income persons to increase the energy efficiency of dwellings. [OTI]

A some point it might behoove the Representative to note that not every one else is straddling a semantic fence and continue his education on the issue:

Here’s the Department of Defense on the implications of climate change on national security.

“The report finds that climate change is a security risk, Pentagon officials said, because it degrades living conditions, human security and the ability of governments to meet the basic needs of their populations. Communities and states that already are fragile and have limited resources are significantly more vulnerable to disruption and far less likely to respond effectively and be resilient to new challenges, they added.” [DoD]

In addition to national defense, there’s also the not-so-small matter of emergency planning and responses.  Emergency Managers have some thoughts on this:

“Since storms are becoming more severe, disaster response costs have risen. The costs of major hurricanes has increased sharply over the last decade, and the spending totals for cleaning up after major floods across the Midwest and South have spiked. More victims and more damages mean more money. If supplies are not available, they must be flown in. Victims may go without necessities and become ill, which results in increased medical costs or an increased demand for medical supplies. Disaster plans must account for the increasing severity of storms and how they create the need for more response supplies.” [EMD.org]

This scenario isn’t too difficult to follow.  Climate change leads to severe storms, severe storms cause more damage, more damage means more costs, more expenses mean more money.   The bottom line is that any emergency management plan which does NOT incorporate the effects of climate change isn’t really a plan at all – just a prayer and a wish list.

As much as Representative Amodei may want to dawdle, fence straddle, and muse about “collecting more facts,” the facts themselves are clear – climate change is happening – climate change is caused by human activity – and to ignore these facts is to make this country (and many others) more vulnerable.

***********************************************************

It has now been 2059 days since the president-elect promised to release his tax returns (April 27, 2011) In light of the ‘Russian Connection’ to the 2016 campaign it seems essential for the American public to find out what financial ties the prospective president has to the Russian government and economy.

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Filed under Amodei, ecology, Nevada politics, Politics