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A coalition of tribal and conservation interests today filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to restore critical protections to the Yellowstone region's iconic grizzly bears before new threats, including hunting, push the population further into decline.
Today's suit challenges a June 2017 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the Yellowstone-area grizzly population from the list of species protected by the Endangered Species Act, which enables the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming to move ahead with plans for trophy hunting of grizzlies.
The Fish and Wildlife Service's decision came despite a recent increase in grizzly deaths in the Yellowstone region following the demise of some of the bears' key food sources, including the seeds of whitebark pine. Federal biologists documented a record-high 61 grizzly deaths in 2015 and 58 in 2016, with the majority of those caused by people. As a result, the government's own estimate of the Yellowstone grizzly population level has declined from 757 in 2014 to 695 in 2016.
"With grizzly deaths spiking and the population in apparent decline, the Yellowstone population needs continued protection, not a new threat of state-sponsored trophy hunting," said Earthjustice attorney Timothy Preso. "The grizzly is a major part of what makes the region in and around Yellowstone National Park so special and unique. We should not be taking a gamble with the grizzly's future."
Earthjustice is representing the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and National Parks Conservation Association in taking legal action to protect the grizzly bear as the Endangered Species Act requires. The coalition's legal challenge takes issue with the Service's evaluation of the mortality consequences of the bears' recent shift to a more heavily meat-based diet following the loss of other foods. It also faults the agency for surgically delisting the isolated Yellowstone grizzly population instead of focusing on a broader, more durable grizzly recovery in the West.
"Without continued Endangered Species Act protections, the recovery of grizzly bears in Greater Yellowstone is in serious jeopardy. Inadequate requirements to protect and connect Yellowstone grizzlies to other populations and hostile state management policies will mean fewer bears restricted to an even smaller area. Grizzly bears will be killed through trophy hunts on the doorstep of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks instead of inspiring millions who come to the region just for a chance to see a live grizzly bear in the wild," said Bonnie Rice, Greater Yellowstone senior representative with Sierra Club's Our Wild America campaign.
"These iconic bears need to be protected, not gunned down so their heads can go on some trophy hunter's wall," said Andrea Santarsiere, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Facing ongoing threats and occupying less than five percent of their historic range, grizzly bears are nowhere near recovery and continue to need the strong protections of the Endangered Species Act."
"National Parks Conservation Association refutes the Department of the Interior's short-sighted decision, which threatens Yellowstone grizzlies and ignores concerns, including those raised by many in the National Park Service. Despite Interior's claim, the long-term health of Yellowstone and Grand Teton grizzlies is far from certain," added Stephanie Adams, Yellowstone Program Manager for National Parks Conservation Association. "We must ensure Yellowstone grizzlies have necessary protections in place for the population to thrive."
Since 1975, Yellowstone-area grizzly bears have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Federal biologists acknowledge that population growth of the Yellowstone grizzly bear has flattened over the past decade and their own data indicates a decline from 2014 to 2016. Prior to and during that same period, the grizzly population has faced the loss of two of its most important food sources in the Yellowstone region--whitebark pine seeds and cutthroat trout--due to changing environmental conditions driven in part by a warming climate.
In the wake of these changes, scientists have documented the bears' transition to a more meat-based diet, but that diet leads to a greater potential for conflict with humans as bears seeking meat interact with hunters and ranchers. Nevertheless, the Fish and Wildlife Service in June 2017 finalized a decision to remove the Yellowstone grizzly population from the threatened species list, claiming that the bear population is recovered.
The Service previously attempted to delist the Yellowstone grizzly population in 2007, but that decision was overturned by a federal district court in Montana along with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on the basis that the Service ignored the impacts of the whitebark pine loss on the grizzly population. In rejecting the Service's 2007 grizzly delisting decision, the 9th Circuit admonished the agency that "the Service cannot take a full-speed ahead, damn-the-torpedoes approach to delisting--especially given the ESA's 'policy of institutionalized caution.'"
Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations, coalitions and communities.800-584-6460
"We grieve for all this unthinkable loss. And with our grief, we also rage," said Jewish Voice for Peace. "The Israeli government's domination and oppression of Palestinians is the root cause of each of these senseless, tragic deaths."
Human rights defenders condemned a Friday attack outside a synagogue in an illegal Israeli settlement by a Palestinian gunman who murdered at least seven people—a massacre that followed the killing of 10 Palestinians by Israeli forces during a raid in the occupied West Bank Thursday.
TheTimes of Israelreports the unidentified gunman shot and killed seven people and wounded three others during the Friday evening attack in Neve Yaakov in East Jerusalem. Friday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The attacker was shot dead during a gunfight with police as he attempted to flee into the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina. An ambulance service said the deceased ranged in age from 20 to 70.
In a statement, Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, said the U.N. chief "strongly condemns today's terrorist attack by a Palestinian perpetrator outside a synagogue in Jerusalem, which claimed the lives of at least seven Israelis and injured several others."
"It is particularly abhorrent that the attack occurred at a place of worship, and on the very day we commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day," Dujarric added. "There is never any excuse for acts of terrorism. They must be clearly condemned and rejected by all."
\u201c\ud83d\udea85 #Israelis killed & 5 wounded in a shooting attack near a synagogue in the Neve Yaakov settlements in occupied East Jerusalem.\n\nViolence begets violence begets violence....\n\nPeople don't understand how close the occupied territories are to a full disastrous explosion!\u201d— Muhammad Shehada (@Muhammad Shehada) 1674846498
Tom Nides, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, tweeted that he is "shocked and disgusted at this heinous terrorist attack on innocent people, including children. Praying for all of the victims and their loved ones."
The synagogue massacre came one day after Israeli occupation forces killed 10 Palestinians including an elderly woman and wounded around 20 others during an early morning raid on the Jenin refugee camp. Israeli forces then bombed Gaza early on Friday morning after Palestinian resistance fighters fired two rockets at Israel.
The Jenin raid was part of Operation Breakwater, a nine-month campaign targeting Palestinian resistance in the camp and nearby Nablus. Human rights groups say 30 Palestinians, both fighters and civilians, have been killed so far by Israeli forces in 2023. Last year was the deadliest year for West Bank Palestinians since the second intifada—or general uprising—a generation ago, with 150 people including 33 children killed. Another 53 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in Gaza in 2022.
\u201cInstead of linking today's terrible attack in Jerusalem to Holocaust Remembrance Day, which it has nothing to do with, you might connect it instead to the 30 Palestinians that have been killed by Israel just this month. This is a cycle of violence borne of Israeli apartheid.\u201d— Arielle Angel (@Arielle Angel) 1674851482
In a statement following the synagogue murders, the U.S.-based group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) called the attack "the inevitable, horrifying outcome of decades of Israeli apartheid"
"We grieve for all this unthinkable loss. And with our grief, we also rage. The Israeli government's domination and oppression of Palestinians is the root cause of each of these senseless, tragic deaths," JVP contended.
"The violent, racist speech coming from the Israeli government makes it clear that the Israeli military will continue to escalate its violent attacks on Palestinians. Already the Israeli army has invaded Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem," the group said.
\u201c10 killed in #Jenin and now 5 dead, 5 wounded in Jerusalem shooting attack: these are the ENTIRELY PREDICTABLE RESULTS of a vicious extremist #Israeli government that leaves no room for hope, no room for peace, more to come. https://t.co/kQt5NgIMw3\u201d— Sarah Leah Whitson (@Sarah Leah Whitson) 1674845638
What we are witnessing is not a "conflict," a "clash," or a "war" between two equal parties. There is no mistaking the massive disparity of power between the Israeli government and the Palestinians it targets. Backed by $3.8 billion in annual military funding from the U.S. government, the Israeli government controls, dominates, and dispossesses Palestinian lives and lands.
"We are on the side of unconditional commitment to justice, equality, freedom, and dignity for all people, no exceptions," JVP added. "To achieve a future where all are safe and free, we must end the Israeli government's settler-colonial apartheid regime."
"We have sought and aspired to be an example, to uphold international law," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. "Instead the administration is making it effectively impossible to seek refuge at our border."
Arguing that the Biden administration's expansion of the Trump-era Title 42 anti-asylum policy is not only immoral but also illegal, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is leading nearly 80 of her fellow Democratic lawmakers in calling on President Joe Biden to instead keep his earlier promise to end the policy that's expelled more than 2.5 million migrants since 2020.
The New York Democrat joined Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) in spearheading a letter signed by a bicameral coalition of lawmakers to "applaud the creation of new legal pathways for Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans" that the Biden administration announced earlier this month, while expressing "great concern" over the restrictions that were paired with those pathways.
"Last year, we welcomed your administration's announcement that it would move to end Title 42, and we continue to support your efforts in the courts to ensure a timely end to the policy," wrote the lawmakers in the Thursday letter. "We are therefore distressed by the deeply inconsistent choice to expand restrictions on asylum-seekers after your administration determined it was no longer necessary for public health. Title 42 circumvents domestic law and international law."
"We urge the Biden administration to engage quickly and meaningfully with members of Congress to find ways to adequately address migration to our southern border that do not include violating asylum law and our international obligations."
The letter was sent three weeks after the administration announced that under Title 42—which was first used by former Republican President Donald Trump to refuse entry into the U.S. to migrants at the southern border during the Covid-19 pandemic, with Trump claiming the policy was needed to protect public health—30,000 migrants from Nicaragua, Cuba, and Haiti will be able to enter the country legally each month through a humanitarian parole program and U.S.-based financial sponsors.
If people from those countries try to enter the U.S. without going through an official port of entry, they will face immediate expulsion to Mexico, with the Mexican government committing to accept 30,000 deported refugees per month.
At a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez said by expanding the Title 42 program, Biden is violating human rights that are "enshrined in domestic and international law."
"We have sought and aspired to be an example, to uphold international law," said the congresswoman. "Instead the administration is making it effectively impossible to seek refuge at our border."
\u201cGreat to see @AOC highlight that Title 42 isn\u2019t just amoral, it\u2019s illegal.\n\n\u201cLast year Pres Biden promised to end Title 42. Instead he's now expanding restrictions on asylum. But the right to seek asylum is enshrined in domestic and international law.\u201d\u201d— Sawyer Hackett (@Sawyer Hackett) 1674781507
The lawmakers also raised alarm about a rulemaking process the Biden administration said it would begin to require migrants to first apply for asylum in a third "transit country" instead of exercising their legal right to asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that Trump's "third country transit ban" violated U.S. asylum laws which prohibit the government from turning people away if they are not "firmly resettled" in another country where they are safe.
"At the time of this ruling, countries across the Western Hemisphere were unable to meet such requirements," wrote the lawmakers. "There does not appear to be evidence to show that country conditions in transit countries have improved since the relevant appellate decision was rendered as to justify a new third country transit [ban]."
Title 42 was also struck down by a district court in November, but the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the policy to continue for the time being last month. The court is set to hear arguments on the case in February.
The Democrats called on the president to work closely with Congress, which passed the Refugee Act of 1980 and affirmed that people fleeing persecution on "account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion" are legally permitted to seek asylum in the United States.
"We urge the Biden administration to engage quickly and meaningfully with members of Congress to find ways to adequately address migration to our southern border that do not include violating asylum law and our international obligations," said the lawmakers. "When Congress established the right to asylum, it did so without such requirements on where people may have previously traveled through or other pathways available. It is, in fact, necessary that asylum must be maintained and strengthened to ensure that safety is within reach, particularly for the most vulnerable."
A new manifesto calls for building "a sustainable social pact for the 21st century" in which "our rights are guaranteed, not based on our ability to pay, or on whether a system produces profit, but on whether it enables all of us to live well together in peace and equality."
An international coalition made up of more than 200 trade unions and progressive advocacy groups on Thursday published the Santiago Declaration, a manifesto for "a complete overhaul of our global economic system."
The undeniably anti-neoliberal document proclaiming that "our future is public" is the product of a meeting held in Chile—the "laboratory of neoliberalism" where Milton Friedman and his University of Chicago acolytes' upwardly redistributive economic model was first imposed at gunpoint by Gen. Augusto Pinochet's military junta.
From November 29 to December 2, more than 1,000 organizers from over 100 countries gathered in Santiago and virtually to germinate a left-wing movement against "the dominant paradigm of growth, privatization, and commodification."
"Who owns our resources and our services is fundamental. A public future means ensuring that everything essential to dignified lives is out of private control."
"We are at a critical juncture," the manifesto begins. "At a time when the world faces a series of crises, from the environmental emergency to hunger and deepening inequalities, increasing armed conflicts, pandemics, rising extremism, and escalating inflation, a collective response is growing."
"Hundreds of organizations across socioeconomic justice and public services sectors—from education and health services, to care, energy, food, housing, water, transportation, and social protection—are coming together to address the harmful effects of commercializing public services, to reclaim democratic public control, and to reimagine a truly equal and human rights-oriented economy that works for people and the planet," reads the document. "We demand universal access to quality, gender-transformative, and equitable public services as the foundation of a fair and just society."
The Santiago Declaration continues:
The commercialization and privatization of public services and the commodification of all aspects of life have driven growing inequalities and entrenched power disparities, giving prominence to profit and corruption over people's rights and ecological and social well-being. It adversely affects workers, service users, and communities, with the costs and damages falling disproportionately on those who have historically been exploited.
The devaluation of public service workers' social status, the worsening of their working conditions, and attacks against their unions are some of the most worrying regressions of our times and a threat to our collective spaces. This is deeply linked with the patriarchal organization of society, where women as workers and carers are undervalued and absorb social and economic shocks. They are the first to suffer from public sector cuts, losing access to services and opportunities for decent work, and facing a rising burden of unpaid care work.
Austerity cuts in public sector budgets and wage bills are driven by an ideological mindset entrenched in the International Monetary Fund and many ministries of finance that serve the interests of corporations over people, perpetuating dependencies and unsustainable debts. Unfair tax rules, nationally and internationally, enable vast inequalities in the accumulation and concentration of income, wealth, and power within and between countries. The financialization of a wide range of public actions and decisions hands over power to shareholders and undermines democracy.
Against the heavily privatized status quo, "we commit to continue building an intersectional movement for a future that is public," the document says. "One where our rights are guaranteed, not based on our ability to pay, or on whether a system produces profit, but on whether it enables all of us to live well together in peace and equality: our buen vivir."
According to Global Justice Now, the Transnational Institute, and other signatories, the creation of an egalitarian and sustainable society hinges on ensuring universal access to life-sustaining public goods delivered by highly valued workers.
"We need to take back control of decision-making processes and institutions from the current forms of corporate capture to be able to decide for what, for whom, and how we provide."
"Who owns our resources and our services is fundamental," the manifesto argues. "A public future means ensuring that everything essential to dignified lives is out of private control, and under decolonial forms of collective, transparent, and democratic control."
\u201cThe Santiago Declaration calls us to build a public future - where quality education, health & other #PublicServices are guaranteed regardless of ability to pay & w/o commercial control.\n@Oxfam is proud to have supported this effort! https://t.co/OvqARJOy4E\n\n#OurFutureIsPublic\u201d— Oxfam International (@Oxfam International) 1674739224
As the Santiago Declaration explains:
A future that is public also means creating the conditions for enabling alternative production systems, including the prioritization of agroecology as an essential component of food sovereignty. To that end, we need to take back control of decision-making processes and institutions from the current forms of corporate capture to be able to decide for what, for whom, and how we provide, manage, and collectively own resources and public services.
The public future will not be possible without taking bold collective national action for ambitious, gender-transformative, and progressive fiscal and economic reforms, to massively expand financing of universal public services. These reforms must be complemented by major shifts in the international public finance architecture, including transformations in tax, debt, and trade governance.
Democratizing economic governance towards truly multilateral processes is critical to overhaul the power of dominant neoliberal organizations and reorient national and international financial institutions away from the racial, patriarchal, and colonial patterns of capitalism and towards socioeconomic justice, ecological sustainability, human rights, and public services. It is equally essential to enforce the climate and ecological debt of the Global North, to carry out an expedited reduction of energy and material resource use by wealthy economies, to hold big polluters liable for their generations-long infractions, to accelerate the phasing-out of fossil fuels, and to prioritize finance system change.
The call to build "a sustainable social pact for the 21st century," the coalition observes, "follows years of growing mobilization around the world."
During Friday's opening session, former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis called for the establishment of a movement capable of dismantling "the existing, exploitative, catastrophically extractive imperialist international economic order so as to build a new one in its place... in which people and planet can breathe, live, and prosper together."