Trump visits Utah, reduces Bears Ears Monument

Trump visited Utah on Monday to announce a reduction of both the Bears Ears and the Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monuments.


Bears Ears National Monument will be sliced from nearly 1.35 million acres into an 86,447-acre Indian Creek unit and a 142,337-acre Shash Jaa unit.


Grand Staircase-Escalante will be cut back from nearly 1.9 million acres to three units — the 211,983-acre Grand Staircase, the 551,117-acre Kaiparowits and the 243,241-acre Escalante Canyons.


These are the largest reductions in protected land in the history of The United States. Trump argued that the monuments have led to “harmful and unnecessary restrictions” and that they were a result of Federal overreach, negatively impacting the local economy, hunting, and ranching. It didn’t take long for conservation groups to react, multiple lawsuits were filed just hours after the President’s announcement. The conservation groups, led by San Francisco-based Earthjustice — including the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Sierra Club, were apparently well aware of this announcement ahead of time due to various leaks from government officials in the White House. They’re of the opinion that the President lacks the authority to perform these actions under the Antiquities Act.


Trump is quoted as saying that “public lands will once again be for public use.”


“They’ve threatened your very way of life. They’ve threatened your hearts,” he said, promising the state’s national treasures would be protected by listening to the local communities that “know the land the best and that (cherish) the land the most.”


Trump was accompanied by senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee. Both are apparently very happy with the President’s decision, based on various posts the Senators have made on their public Facebook profiles. Mike Lee has posted videos lampooning the Antiquities Act, pointing to it as an abuse of power. The Act was intended to allow the President to set aside certain valuable public natural areas as park and conservation land. It also allows the President to reserve or accept private lands for that purpose. The aim is to protect all historic and prehistoric sites on United States federal lands and to prohibit excavation or destruction of these antiquities. With this act, this can be done much more quickly than going through the Congressional process of creating a National Park.


Mike Lee is quoted as saying “President Trump did the people of Utah a great favor today by rolling back harmful land use restrictions in southern Utah. The president has done his part and now it is time for Congress to act to protect the people of Utah from federal overreach in the future. That is why I will be introducing legislation later this week that would give Utah similar protections from Antiquities Act abuse that the states of Wyoming and Alaska currently enjoy.”


Trump also toured the LDS churche’s Welfare Square and sat down with top church leaders in a meeting arranged by Senator Hatch. Trump reportedly praised the Church’s efforts in helping the needy around the world.


Although Trump was met with many supportive citizens at his speech, there were various protests throughout the valley, particularly in front of the Capitol, where thousands of protestors gathered and yelled at the President as he drove by along his motorcade route. There was also a confrontation between protestors and police in riot gear near 100 South and State street.


There will surely be more lawsuits in the coming weeks, and Trump has said new legislation will need to be passed to prevent the reduction being reversed by presidential candidates in the future.

Bump fire stalks, their roll in the Vegas shooting, and legislation related to them

The recent October 1st shootings in Vegas on a crowd of concert goers were performed with the assistance of a bump-fire stock. This stock allows the rifle to travel freely along the rod of the stock as it recoils, and in its return action the trigger is depressed again, causing it to fire and repeat the cycle, essentially turning a semi-auto rifle into an automatic weapon.

It didn’t take long for bills to be proposed to Congress banning this type of stock, as its existence is obviously to subvert the automatic weapons ban. It seems obvious that this should be something that is banned, especially in light of it being used to take so many lives in Vegas.

The NRA has mounted an opposition to the bills in congress banning the stocks, arguing instead for more strict regulations on the stocks. What these regulations would entail is still to be determined.

This would certainly lead to some interesting regulations, as it would essentially be allowing modifications to a rifle that enable automatic fire, while still having automatic weapons be illegal in general. The creative wording necessary for the changes proposed by the ATF and NRA are yet to be seen.

The White House has let the Jones Act Waiver Expire


The White House refuses to continue to waive the Jones Act, which would greatly benefit the people of Puerto Rico. If you’re unfamiliar with the Jones Act, it bars foreign-flagged vessels from entering two US ports consecutively. So, for example, a ship registered in Liberia can dock in San Juan, or in Miami, but not Miami and then San Juan.


Importantly, they also can’t deliver aid to multiple ports within Puerto Rico, nor deliver aid to Puerto Rico after having completed an unrelated docking elsewhere in the US. So, for example, if a ship from Asia docks in the Port of Houston to deliver cars or clothes or something manufactured abroad, they might well be passing right by Puerto Rico on their way back around the Horn of Africa, and they might well be mostly empty just dead-heading back to Asia. Sounds like a great chance to load it up with supplies and drop off in PR before carrying on, right? Not under the Jones Act. Or if a foreign ship is headed to Miami to drop off unrelated goods and also wants to carry relief/aid supplies to Puerto Rico on the same trip, no dice. Only one or the other is allowed.


Foreign vessels can provide aid, but the Jones Act makes it more difficult to do so.


The president has shown his cards, so-to-speak, on this issue, revealing that it is pressure from importers that benefit from the Jones act that has caused the U.S. not to provide the same waiver it did for Florida.


This is amidst a growing need for supplies in Puerto Rico after the wake of recent hurricanes. A video posted on twitter of some kind-hearted veterans who are attempting to help in Puerto Rico paints a pretty grim picture:


Utah Homeless

Homelessness has been a serious and growing issue in the Salt Lake Valley for many years. Up until the last few years, though, their population was primarily subjugated to a few blocks downtown. Now, as their population increases and police disperse their concentration from the Rio Grande area in SLC, they are being seen everywhere across this valley in greater numbers than ever before. Most residents aren’t fans of this development, but proposed solutions are equally despised.


The county has been seeking sites for proposed homeless shelters across the valley for quite some time, but has faced serious opposition from constituent voters in the available cities. Recently, Mayor Troy Walker was forced to rescind his offer of placing a homeless shelter in Draper, when voters began yelling and threatening impeachment at him during a recent public gathering in Draper. Walker is quoted as saying “I get it now,” minutes before leaving the gathering.


This is similar opposition to what has been seen across the board at each proposed site for new homeless shelters, that are evidently badly needed in the valley.


Walking downtown used to be an entirely different experience. Sure, the Rio Grande area was always rife with homeless laying on the lawns and parks, or crowded around the one shelter there, but the rest of the city remained relatively untouched, save for some panhandlers here and there. Rio Grande could get surprisingly sketchy at night, for UT standards, with people constantly offering you drugs of all kinds as you walked by. Since the police have started dispersing the homeless concentration there, the affected people have been filtered throughout the streets of downtown, and like a ripple in a pond, the homeless population has spread across the valley in greater numbers.


Before, you would primarily see homeless panhandling at freeway on/off-ramps outside of downtown. Recently, you now see them on many street corners, as far as 700 east, and as far South as Sandy. Residents are aware of the growing issue, which some have thought was largely responsible for The Gateway Mall’s steady spiral into oblivion, but very few Utah residents seem keen to have a homeless shelter or facilities placed in their own city.


Recently, four homeless facilities were announced:

  • 653 E. Simpson Ave (near 2300 South)
  • 275 W. High Ave (approximately 1400 South)
  • 131 E. 700 South
  • 648 W. 100 South

Each is supposed to “house” rather than “shelter” 150 people. Supposedly, queueing will not be allowed outside, and meals will only be served to people staying at the facilities. One of facilities will be woman-only, and one will be directed at young, at-risk youth. Although residents in the effected neighborhoods are very concerned, especially business owners (perhaps rightly so), the plans for these facilities seem well laid so far, making good use of available infrastructure, such as public transit.


The fact of the matter is that these facilities are extremely important for assisting the homeless in getting back on their feet, and more importantly, staying alive, especially with the approaching winter. It seems like many people overlook the fact that the homeless population is not entirely comprised of vagrants and drug addicts, in fact, a large population of homeless people are closer to being “in between” homes, through bad luck or poor planning. Without shelters and the resources they provide, many of them would be unable to get back on their feet and back into housing, and many more start a downward spiral, ceasing to be productive members of society. is currently seeking commentary on the homelessness issue in the Salt Lake Valley from elected officials.

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