Obama making secret deals with Iran

Obama’s secret dealings with the terrorist state of Iran keep leaking out.

Now we learn that — what a coincidence! — the first $400 million, supposedly of a $1.7 billion settlement that dates to 1979, was secretly airlifted in the form of cash on wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies at precisely the same time in mid-January when four Americans were released by Iran, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Obama announced the release of the prisoners without any mention of the secret cash shipment.

“Iranian press reports have quoted senior Iranian defense officials describing the cash as a ransom payment,” WSJ relates.

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian after being released by Iran following a secret $400 million cash airlift. (Reuters photo via WSJ)

The U.S. has a longstanding policy against paying ransom for the release of hostages/prisoners, lest it encourage the taking of more hostages. Since January the Iranians have arrested two more Iranian-Americans as well as several others with dual European citizenships.

Two years ago the family of a murdered American journalist was threatened with arrest if they had tried to pay ransom for his release. They said a military officer working for Obama’s National Security Council warned they could be charged with supporting terrorism if they paid a ransom to his Islamist captors.


Just a couple of weeks ago The Associated Press reported that a secret codicil to the Iranian nuclear deal will let the imams start building nukes years earlier than previously reported.


“The confidential document is the only text linked to last year’s deal between Iran and six foreign powers that hasn’t been made public, although U.S. officials say members of Congress who expressed interest were briefed on its substance,” AP reported. “It was given to the AP by a diplomat whose work has focused on Iran’s nuclear program for more than a decade, and its authenticity was confirmed by another diplomat who possesses the same document.”

Of the latest secret deal, Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton accused Obama of paying “a $1.7 billion ransom to the ayatollahs for U.S. hostages. … This break with longstanding U.S. policy put a price on the head of Americans, and has led Iran to continue its illegal seizures” of Americans.

Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford added, “President Obama’s … payment to Iran in January, which we now know will fund Iran’s military expansion, is an appalling example of executive branch governance. … Subsidizing Iran’s military is perhaps the worst use of taxpayer dollars ever by an American president.”

Congress is working on legislation to prevent the Obama administration from making further cash payments to Iran.

The story did not warrant mention in today’s Las Vegas newspaper.

OK, before the defenders of Obama start coming to his defense with the excuse that others did it, too. Yes, Reagan did it, too.


Environmental group protest dirt road race route across corner of monument

This is why they are called spoilsports.

A group calling itself Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility is raising a ruckus over plans by the Bureau of Land Management to route a short portion of a dirt road race from Las Vegas to Reno through a short span of the newly minted 700,000-acre Basin and Range National Monument.

Photo by Mark Kariya

The race, called the General Tire Las Vegas to Reno race, is said to be the longest off-highway race in the country, about 640 miles, and usually has about 300 motorcycles, trucks, dune buggies and assorted all-terrain vehicles competing each year. It has been run annually for 20 years by the Best in the Desert Racing Association. It starts near Alamo, has an overnight stop in Tonopah and ends near Dayton,

“BLM’s race plan makes a mockery out of President Obama’s monument declaration,” PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch said in a statement. “BLM is playing fast and loose with its legal obligations in order to let hundreds of vehicles roar through fragile desert before the monument’s protections can be solidified.”

A complaint sent to the White House and the Secretary of the Interior by PEER accused the BLM of flouting the presidential monument proclamation directive that “motorized vehicle use in the monument shall be permitted only on roads existing as of the date of this proclamation.”

The Las Vegas newspaper carried an Associated Press account of the objection today, but added that it contacted Basin and Range National Monument manager Alicia Styles, who told the paper the proposed route for the race crosses about 40 miles of the monument, all of it on existing dirt roads.

According to the Federal Register, “Except for emergency or authorized administrative purposes, motorized vehicle use in the monument shall be permitted only on roads existing as of the date of this proclamation.”

So what’s the beef?

Also, PEER nor any other self-styled environmentalists so far as we’ve heard have raised objections to the paragraph that precedes that statement about existing roads:

“Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to limit the authority of the Secretary, under applicable law other than this proclamation, to undertake or authorize activities on public land in the vicinity of the sculpture City for the purpose of preventing harm to the artwork, including activities to improve drainage and to prevent erosion, consistent with the care and management of the objects identified above. The management plan for the monument shall provide for reasonable use of existing roads within the monument to facilitate public access to City.”

Art is good? Sport is bad?

City is just a lot of bulldozed dirt that is supposed to look like ancient ruins, we’re told. Construction has been going on for more than 40 years inside what is now a national monument. But that is not damaging to the pristine desert, while driving a few bikes and trucks over an existing road one day a year is devastating.

City — art in the desert?


In iPhone/GPS era, FAA still flying by passing out slips of paper

Here is still another example of a bureaucracy mired in incompetence.

The Wall Street Journal reports in an editorial today that the Federal Aviation Administration runs an air-traffic control system with the best technology World War II could offer, while its efforts to upgrade are overbudget and overdue. The FAA is expected to miss its 2025 completion date by a decade.

The Associated Press recently reported that new air control towers at McCarran International in Las Vegas and San Francisco International can’t open and will have to be remodeled because they are built for new technology that keeps crashing. Work spaces will have to be expanded so controllers can handle slips of paper for tracking flights.

Both the AP account and the WSJ editorial report that a bill sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation Committee, would take air traffic control operations away from the FAA and hand it to a nonprofit company run by the aviation industry.

WSJ says it works in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, and a Government Accountability Office report found safety either improved or remained unchanged.

Sounds like a better alternative.

New McCarran tower in the foreground and old tower to the left. (R-J photo)

VA secretary explains just how Mickey Mouse his agency has become

“When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important? What’s important is, what’s your satisfaction with the experience?” Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald said during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast on Monday. “And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure.”

That is simply crass, crude, clueless and obtuse.

Waiting to board an amusement park ride is a bit different from waiting for pain-relieving or even life-saving medical care. You can’t ask the deceased what their level of satisfaction was.

Nevada’s junior Sen. Dean Heller unloaded in a letter to McDonald:

I write to you extremely concerned about the comments you made on May 23, 2016, comparing the length of time veterans wait to receive health care at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to the length of time people wait for rides at Disneyland. Not only am I concerned about the flippant nature of your comparison but also the fact that you said that your agency should not use wait times as a measure of success because Disney does not either.  As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I believe it is my responsibility to follow up with you on the gravity of this issue as it critical to ensure that Veterans across my state are receiving the care they were promised in an expedient manner.

When men and women across our nation committed to serving America and risking their lives to protect us, our country promised that, in return, we would care for these service members upon their return home. This is not a Disney fairytale Mr. Secretary, this is reality. Recent statistics from Nevada show nearly 10,000 VA appointments remain scheduled over 30 days from the requested date. Given the issues that Nevada’s Veterans continue to face accessing VA health care, I do not believe that promise has been kept. Just a few weeks ago, I heard from a Nevada veteran’s wife about the difficulty she faced scheduling a cardiology appointment for her husband. When there are life-threatening issues that can make or break a veterans’ health, waiting is not an option, and Nevada’s veterans deserve better.

Time and time again, I have called for accountability at your agency, and I strongly believe that it should start with the top.  This is why your comments were not only disrespectful but harmful to ensuring that there will be any real change at the VA when it comes to the timeliness of health care appointment wait times.

A year ago The Associated Press reported that the number of veterans waiting more than 30 or 60 days for non-emergency care has largely stayed flat, while the number of medical appointments that take longer than 90 days to complete had nearly doubled.

Nate Beeler

This was nearly a year after Congress doled out $16 billion to solve the problem of lengthy waiting lists. VA officials had been manipulating the waiting lists to make them look like vets were waiting less time to see a doctor than was actually happening.

In March of this year the Government Accountability Office reported that it studied 180 veterans newly enrolled in the VA health system. Sixty of that 180 had not yet seen a health provider and “nearly half were unable to access primary care because VA medical center staff did not schedule appointments for these veterans in accordance with VHA policy. The 120 newly enrolled veterans in GAO’s review who were seen by providers waited from 22 days to 71 days from their requests that VA contact them to schedule appointments to when they were seen, according to GAO’s analysis.”

The analysis found that the system lacks a comprehensive scheduling policy and there were ongoing scheduling errors. A VA report in September found nearly 900,000 listed as “pending” for health care, but Social Security records listed 300,000 of those as deceased.

What did McDonald do with that $16 billion? Go to Disneyland?

Heller asked the VA secretary to answer these questions by May 30:

— Does the VA remain committed to providing appointments to veterans within 30 days of the request?

— What are the current VA appointment wait times for veterans in Nevada and nationwide?

— For each fiscal year since implementation of the Choice Act, how many VA health care beneficiaries are obtaining appointments through the Choice Program as a result of an appointment wait time of 30 days or more?

— How do you explain to veterans that you believe their wait time for care is just as important as a wait time at an amusement park?

— When did your view on appointment wait times change to the point that you believe wait time should not even be a measure for the VA?

— Do you believe that the VA cannot achieve both timely and quality care simultaneously.

— Do you believe you are still fit to serve and advocate on behalf of veterans as the VA Secretary if you aren’t prioritizing the timeliness of their health care — the very reason you became Secretary in the midst of the 2014 VA health care scandal?

It matters not whether McDonald still thinks he is fit to serve. Does Congress? Better yet, what do veterans think?

McDonald put out a press release today that basically blames others for misunderstanding his commitment to improving the VA and offered no apology for his cluelessness and highly inappropriate remark. “If my comments Monday led any Veterans to believe that I, or the dedicated workforce I am privileged to lead, don’t take that noble mission seriously, I deeply regret that. Nothing could be further from the truth,” the statement reads.

For the record, Disney has spent more than $1 billion on something called the Disney MagicBand so customers don’t have to wait in long lines.

Nevada’s senior Sen. Harry Reid defended McDonald today.

“I support Secretary McDonald all the way. …” Reid was quoted as saying. “I’m an expert on poor choice of words. … I’m sure he would be the first to tell you, following my example, saying the wrong things is not the best way to go.”

Masters of malaprops still together.

Republican Congressman Joe Heck, who is running for Reid’s Senate seat also weighed in. He used the callow McDonald gaffe to call for passage of the stalled VA Accountability Act, which he said is intended to address the agency’s defensive culture and pattern of offering excuses instead of solutions.

“Secretary McDonald’s double down on his callous remarks invoking Disneyland is alarming because it suggests the defensive culture among management at the VA, which lead to the falsification of wait-time reports in the first place, persists under his leadership,” said Heck, a brigadier general in the Army Reserve medical corps and a veteran of the Iraq conflict.

“The remedy to the VA’s culture of excuses is a needed dose of accountability. Unfortunately, the federal civil service, which makes it extremely difficult to remove negligent or unethical employees, remains an obstacle to such reform,” Heck added, noting that the VA Accountability Act passed the House but is stalled in Reid’s Senate. “Every day that the VA’s accountability problem goes unaddressed, taxpayers are being forced to foot the bill for the salaries of failed bureaucrats. Our veterans have given us all they have. Seeing that they get the care and benefits they need, earned and deserve is the very least we can do.”

Well, the VA is apparently doing the least it can do.

Surprisingly, former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who is running for Reid’s seat from the Democratic side, parted company with shrugging Reid and blasted oafish McDonald.

“Even for Washington, the tone deafness of these comments is stunning,” she said in a statement. “The VA needs to address the wait times at its facilities so our veterans get the care they need in a timely manner, not offer up false analogies and excuses. It’s long past time for the VA to get its act together.”


Wild horses could be saved the same way as the buffalo: a free market

Today there are around 500,000 buffalo in the United States, and about 90 percent are in private hands. (Photo: Yellowstone National Park/ Flickr/ CC BY 2.0)

While Gov. Brian Sandoval is threatening to pursue legal action to force the federal government to fund wild horse population control, Bureau of Land Management Nevada Director John Ruhs says he is asking Washington to provide $4 million to pay for rounding up 4,000 wild horses in Elko County, according to The Associated Press.

The BLM is already telling ranchers they may face a reduction in grazing permits due to the overpopulation of feral horses, meaning there will be major economic impact for the state — estimated by state officials to be $1.8 million in Elko County alone. The BLM says the Elko horse herds are 350 percent in excess of what the range can sustain.

The real problem may come once those horses are rounded up, if they are. Though federal law specifically requires captured but unadoptable wild horses to the humanely disposed of, Congress has refused for years to allow any federal funds to be spent to do so.

Instead, as the AP story points out, there are now more than 45,000 mustangs in government corrals and pastures costing of $48,000 per animal over its lifetime or $40 million per year. Another 4,000 horses could add $200 million in warehousing costs.

Perhaps, the government should learn a lesson from how the American bison were saved, not by expensive government roundups but by private enterprise. Today’s Daily Signal recounts studies that show “the number of bison swelled in the 20th century mostly because they were ‘preserved not for their iconic significance in the interest of biological diversity but simply raised to be slaughtered for their meat.'”

A study by Andrew C. Isenberg, a professor of history at Princeton, says it was Western ranchers such as the renowned Charles Goodnight, who captured buffalo calves in 1878, who really saved the buffalo, and “many of the bison that eventually populated government preserves descended from the herd of two Montana ranchers.”

Their primary motive: profit.

“Without question, market forces had contributed to the near-extinction of the bison, along with the political objective of destroying the Indians by eliminating their food source. But that is well known,” writes University of Dayton history professor Larry Schweikart at the Foundation for Economic Education. “What is almost never mentioned is that it was market forces-ranchers, hunters, tourism developers, railroaders, and philanthropists-that ultimately saved the buffalo as well.”

There is a market for slaughtered horses. Domestic horses are routinely slaughtered and rendered for various purposes, including the meat, which is sold largely overseas though same may be sold to zoos. The U.S. has banned the sale of horse meat for pet food.

A free market could provide a protection for and control of the population of horse herds and relieve the taxpayer of huge costs.

Wild horses being warehoused at Palomino Valley near Reno. (Photo by Jo Mitchell)


NY Times endorses Hillary in the middle of her missteps

Timing is everything.

On the same day The New York Times endorses Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, The Associated Press is reporting that 22 of her emails on her unsecured server were top secret and Investor’s Business Daily reveals she also destroyed Whitewater records, just as she has with Benghazi. Irresponsible? Serial destroyer? Indictable?

“Hillary Clinton is the right choice for the Democrats to present a vision for America that is radically different from the one that leading Republican candidates offer — a vision in which middle-class Americans have a real shot at prosperity, women’s rights are enhanced, undocumented immigrants are given a chance at legitimacy, international alliances are nurtured and the country is kept safe,” the Timesmen/women enthuse.

Hillary Clinton (NYT photo)

The AP editorializes in its news story, “Independent experts say it’s unlikely Clinton will be charged with wrongdoing, based on details that have surfaced so far and the lack of indications she intended to break laws.”

Intended? In this case the criteria might be reckless negligence.

IBD reports that Hillary Clinton’s subpoenaed but missing Rose Law firm billing records mysteriously showed up on a hallway table in the White House in January 1996 — after the statute of limitations had expired.

Those records had been in Vince Foster’s office at the time of his suicide, but Hillary Clinton and others hauled the records to a closet in her office, approximately 30 feet from the table where they were found two years later.

Also today the NY Times gave a backhanded endorsement to Ohio Gov. John Kasich for the Republican nomination. Yes, we are sure Republicans everywhere were anxiously awaiting the Times’ pick.

“Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, though a distinct underdog, is the only plausible choice for Republicans tired of the extremism and inexperience on display in this race,” the Times opined.



Editorial: State and counties should continue federal land use litigation

Proposed greater sage grouse habitat plan map by BLM.

Gov. Brian Sandoval’s negotiations with the Interior Department’s Secretary Sally Jewell reached some compromises that provide some relief from the draconian land use plans the department promulgated after deciding the greater sage grouse did not need to be listed under the Endangered Species Act after all, but more needs to be done to protect Nevada business and recreation and safety.

For example, Sandoval boasted in a press release, “Secretary Jewell committed to resolve the issues impacting the water tank in Baker by early next year in a manner that maintains public health and safety. I am confident that following our direct conversation, the Secretary fully understands the importance of the water tank to the community of Baker. I stressed the significance of a prompt decision for the sake of the health and safety of the community and the Department of the Interior committed that a timeline and a path forward will be determined by next week.”

Sandoval meets with Jewell in April on the topic of sage grouse. (AP file photo)

The residents of the tiny community of Baker at the entrance to Great Basin National Park had run into resistance from Bureau of Land Management officials when they applied for permission to replace a decades-old, 250,000-gallon leaking water storage tank located on a BLM right of way. There were fears that the leak might result in contamination of the water supply or put the community firefighting capability at risk for its approximately 100 users.

The town’s water board feared delays could jeopardize its state loan under the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act, without which they could not afford the replacement.

A BLM representative had told them an expensive and time-consuming environmental impact statement would be needed due to new grouse regulations.

The board said at the time, “It is imperative that we complete this project prior to the start of summer when water consumption increases dramatically and the official fire season starts.”

This past week a BLM spokesman told The Associated Press the agency has authorized the right-of-way. “Construction of the tank will begin next year following the greater sage-grouse breeding and nesting season and in a manner that maintains public health and safety,” the BLM agent said in a statement, meaning construction cannot begin until July, well past the time it is most urgently needed.

But Sandoval, who had opposed a state and county lawsuit to resolve the land use issues, blithely told the AP, “Some of these issues that are stuck in litigation — it could be years before we have some finality on some of these. This Baker water tank is ‘Exhibit A.’ We may be able to resolve this before there is even a decision,” apparently unaware of how his compromise compromises the health and safety of the community for many months.

But that is not all, in a letter to Sandoval, Elko County Commission Chairman Demar Dahl said the compromise still does too much damage to rural Nevada, especially his county which “bears the burden of the Nevada Sagebrush Focal Areas (SFA) because roughly 2 million acres of the 2.8 million acre SFA are located in northern Elko County. The land use prohibitions in the SFA for mineral exploration and mining, development of wind and solar energy projects, oil and gas exploration, and severe restrictions on grazing have put 25 percent of Elko County off limits to economic uses.”

Dahl went on the say the land use plans will jeopardize the China Mountain Wind Energy Project and cost the county $500 million. Also threatened are nascent mining projects in the Gravel Creek and Jarbidge areas. He said the Gravel Creek gold deposits are estimated to be worth $3 billion.

Dahl noted that Sandoval’s discussions with Jewell failed to address the greatest danger to sage gouse and their habitat, which is wildfire. “Elko County,” the commissioner wrote, “provided the agencies with credible scientific data that managed grazing is the most cost effective way to reduce wildfire risks. Yet our input was ignored.”

There is also a question of whether the agreement with Interior Department is binding on the Department of Agriculture, which is over the Forest Service, which has jurisdiction over surfaces areas.

Of course, there is the question of whether Jewell’s agreement is binding on future Interior secretaries, whereas a court ruling would be binding.

Dahl’s letter concludes that Elko and the other counties involved in the lawsuit have “no choice but to continue to fight for our rights in court.”

We urge the counties and the state attorney general to press on in court.

A version of this editorial appears this past week in the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Update: This past week a motion was filed in the federal litigation addressing the Baker water tank situation. AP reports:

Laura Granier, lead attorney for the counties, said Baker and White Pine County officials were kept in the dark until the two politicians announced to the media they had “negotiated a resolution.”

“Secretary Jewell and Governor Sandoval have orchestrated what at first appeared to be the … happy ending to a vexing situation for BLM,” she wrote in a brief filed Wednesday. “However, upon closer examination, BLM’s fast-tracked … amendment contains rigid and unworkable seasonal constraints that impose several months of delay and only give Baker four months to complete a 12-month project.”

Newspaper column: Minimum wage hike proposal would have opposite effect of its intention

Be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it — good and hard.

A group of altruistic, benevolent and well-meaning Nevadans calling themselves the Committee to Raise the Minimum Wage in Nevada has filed a petition with the Nevada Secretary of State’s office that — if it garners enough signatures to be placed on the 2016 ballot and then enough votes at the polls — would nearly double the minimum wage over the next decade.

The petition, filed this past week, would amend the Nevada Constitution to increase the minimum wage to $9.25 an hour upon passage and by 75 cents a year until it reaches $13 an hour, after which it would increase to match any federal minimum wage hike or equal to an increase in the cost of living. The current constitutional minimum wage is $7.25 an hour if health insurance is provided and $8.25 if not.

Fast-food workers rally for minimum wage in Las Vegas (R-J photo)

The petition also states that tips and gratuities shall not be credited as a way to offset the minimum wage and removes the $1 credit for providing health insurance. It also removes the exemption for those under 18 employed part-time by non-profits, but it does allow a lower wage if it is part of a “bona fide collective bargaining agreement” — the usual sop to the unions.

A measure to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour never made it out of the 2015 Legislature.

The committee must gather 55,000 signatures from across the state to qualify for placement on the ballot.

One of the leaders of the petition drive, Neal Anderson, a Unitarian minister from Northern Nevada, told The Associated Press, “All labor has dignity and therefore we need to value that work. At some point we need to change policy as well, not just provide charity, which is never enough.”

The problem is that study after study has found that raising the minimum wage does not lift more people out of poverty, but rather its net effect is to actually increase the portion of families that are poor and near-poor, according to an analysis of those studies by the Heritage Foundation. This is because a few will see higher income, others will have their work hours reduced and some will drop from minimum wage to zero wage due to layoffs and businesses closing their doors.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that if the federal minimum wage were increased to $10.10 an hour — as proposed by President Obama and others — up to a million workers would lose their jobs.

According to the American Enterprise Institute, when the minimum wage rose 41 percent between 2007 and 2009, the jobless rate for 16- to 19-year-olds increased by 10 percentage points, from about 16 percent in 2007 to more than 26 percent in 2009 — even higher for minorities.

These are entry level jobs without which younger Americans cannot build the skills needed to earn higher pay.

Another Heritage study reported that every dollar increase in minimum wage really only raises take-home pay by 20 cents once welfare benefits are reduced and taxes are increased.

Then there are the affects on everyone. A Cato Institute analysis reports that a “comprehensive review of more than 20 minimum wage studies looking at price effects found that a 10 percent increase in the U.S. minimum wage raises food prices by up to 4 percent and overall prices by up to 0.4 percent.”

Victor Joecks, executive vice president of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, has warned that this proposal is not only anti-business, but anti-worker as well.

“Ultimately, it is the workers who get paid the least that will suffer the most from hikes in the minimum wage — with many of them losing their jobs as businesses close or turn to automation to replace entry-level jobs,” Joecks writes on the NPRI website. “The primary value of entry-level jobs is that they allow workers to gain basic employment skills, which in turn allows them to earn higher wages in the future. Raising the minimum wage, however, makes it harder for low skill workers to get those first jobs. Having that first job is crucial, because two-thirds of minimum wage workers earn a raise within a year.”

He points out that Nevada teenage unemployment already is 23.6 percent.

If this petition is successful it could put countless Nevadans on the dole for life.

A version of this column appears this week in the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel, the Lincoln County Record and the Sparks Tribune — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Harry calls for changes in symbols, some of which he has ignored for four decades

In remarks on the Senate floor today Sen. Harry Reid said in prepared remarks:

It is unfathomable that even as the community of Charleston grapples with the devastation of this hateful act, African-American men and women have to walk underneath a confederate flag when they step on the grounds of the South Carolina State House in Columbia. The confederate flag is a symbol of the dark past from which our country has come. It does not and it should not represent our values or the way we treat our fellow Americans.

It is a symbol of slavery and white-supremacy. There is no other way to explain it. It often flew high as vile organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan torched African-American churches. This symbol of the past has no place atop buildings that govern Americans. It’s just not who we are. This flag should be removed and removed now.

Earlier he said on the Senate floor:

I find it stunning that the NFL is more concerned about how much air is in a ball than with a racist franchise name that denigrates Native Americans across our country. The Redskins name is a racist name.  So I wish the Commissioner would act as swiftly and decisively in changing the name of the Washington, D.C. team, as he did enforcing how much air is in the football.

This is the same Harry Reid who praised former KKK leader Robert Byrd with a glowing memorial upon his death.

This the same Harry Reid who has not said anything about his hometown university teams being called the Rebels and having a mascot called Hey Reb, until today.

According to an AP story posted at the Las Vegas Sun website, Reid told reporters in Washington, D.C., that Nevada’s Board of Regents should consider changing the mascot and sports team name. The name has been around since 1969. Took him awhile.


Photo of Hey Reb from the UNLV campus newspaper The Rebel Yell.


None dare call it plagiarism, right?

Even before the Las Vegas Review-Journal was sold to New Media Investments and taken over by its GateHouse new division, the paper had dropped its very expensive contract with The Associated Press to save money.

So when AP’s Ken Ritter reported that some heirs of blues legend B.B. King claimed the Las Vegas singer-guitarist had been poisoned the paper was left with no access to the news, until Variety sent out a bylined rewrite of the AP story, which the R-J promptly posted online and bannered in its Nevada section.

Seems a bit like cheating.

This also left the paper reporting that an investigation would take eight weeks, though Ritter had already updated his reporting with the fact Metro “police said there was no active homicide investigation.”

Thrill of ethical news reporting is gone?

B.B. King (Getty photo via ABC)

B.B. King (Getty photo)