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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/12/14

Sticking a sneaky swap of Apache land in a 1,600-page defense bill isn't a law, it's larcency!

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As House Republicans were grilling MIT Economist Jonathan Gruber for his arrogant, caustic comments about how dumb Americans are, along with his semantics involving Obamacare being worded so confusingly that it's almost indecipherable to a Ph.D. in Linguistics; and while Sen. John McCain on Tuesday, Dec. 9, gave such an emotionally charged speech to his peers and the national, mainstream, news networks about the CIA's use of torture tactics having "stained our national honor, did much harm, and little practical good," there's a big selloff of 2,400 acres of sacred ceremonial lands owned by the Apaches that federal legislators are banking on transforming into a monstrous copper mine.

Arizona legislators, namely U.S. Sen. John McCain and U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, have worked stealthily at deeply hiding legislation having nothing to do whatsoever with the overall body of a 1,600-page U.S. Senate defense bill, that will make way for an underground copper mining operative in the Tonto National Forest. It's part of a land-swap deal that will trade this land for around 5,000 acres, to be given to the Apaches, with sundry parcels scattered throughout Arizona.

And bingo! On Thursday, Dec. 11, the U.S. Senate voted 85-14 in favor of this bill. The legislation authorizes training and equipping moderate Syrian rebels for two years. The bill provides $5 billion for the fight against Islamic terrorists.

Just another Arizona sunset. And federal legislators have passed legislation hidden inside a 1,600-page defense bill allowing for a land swap of 2,400 acres of sacred ceremonial pristine desert wilderness to be turned into a colossal copper mine.
Just another Arizona sunset. And federal legislators have passed legislation hidden inside a 1,600-page defense bill allowing for a land swap of 2,400 acres of sacred ceremonial pristine desert wilderness to be turned into a colossal copper mine.
(Image by Tony Fischer Photography)
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The defense bill's overal cost? Suffice it to say that this $585 billion bill authorizes money for core defense programs, such as money for overseas operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with funding national security programs in the Energy Department.

And hidden in this monstrosity are provisions designating 250,000 acres of new wilderness allotments and re-allotments. including the 2,400-acre land swap of ceremonial and sacred lands owned by the Apaches. A final vote on the bill is expected Friday.

The House passed its defense bill Dec. 4, comprising a defense budget that cuts troop benefits and clears the way for the Obama administration to continue its war strategy against the Islamic State. And for U.S. troops, these federal representatives can be equated to "the Grinch who stole Christmas," since The last-minute budget compromise reduces military pay raises, housing allowances, prescription medicine coverage, and commissary funding next year, and all at the same time making way for $63.7 billion for overseas wars and permission for continued arming and training Syrian rebels. So let's hear another patriotic song about how great our troops are, while their morale has to be pretty much in the gutter with what their House representatives have given them right before Christmas. And Happy New Year! The Republican-dominated House and Senate will soon be seated!

Overall, the Congressional legislation is a sad law. It's deceptive, treacherous, and for the Apaches and even the U.S. troops, can be equated to larceny. According to azcentral, a News 12 and The Arizona Republic website: "House lawmakers slipped the land-exchange bill late Tuesday night (Dec. 2) into the 1,600-page National Defense Authorization Act, a key bill that continues funding for the Defense Department."

Plans to create a gargantuan underground copper mining operation are being strongly opposed by the San Carlos Apache Tribe, along with other tribal nations of the Southwestern United States. Environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, also oppose this initiative of this forward-thinking, teabagging progress, which will obliterate virgin desert forest lands, creating nothing less than environmental disaster of land and the water resources. The overall region effected is known as Oak Flats, which is part of the Apache's ancestral and ceremonial territory. Sites the Apaches call Apache Leap, a mountain held sacred by the San Carlos Apache Tribe, and even the Tonto National Forest, will be severely altered and in the end, ruined beyond recognition. Welcome to the rocky Exoplanet Arizona. There might even be a lake of methane or two on the barren landscape.

These pristine natural wonders and wildernesses will be turned into caves, barren extraction areas spanning miles, and a desolate, environmentally hazardous landscapes.

In sum, the same draconian environmental menace that Canadian Conservative Party Prime Minister Stephen Harper has unleashed on the boreal forest, for oilsands extraction in Alberta, teabaggers like McCain and Gosar are planning for their southwestern state.

Gosar's horrid diatribe calling American Indians "wards of the state" and adding that, 'Tribes, you can call yourselves sovereign nations, but when it comes down to the final test, you're not really sovereign because we still have plenary authority over you,'" has only served to add insult to injury of what has become a very volatile and controversial land swap.

The aerial view of a copper mine. Welcome to something that looks lunar, possibly even Mercurial.
The aerial view of a copper mine. Welcome to something that looks lunar, possibly even Mercurial.
Image by BFS Man)   Details   DMCA

Resolution Copper Mining plans to mine copper deposits beneath a very large expanse of Arizona's Tonto National Forest. Federal legislators have reneged on legislation already in place by creating this environmental vampire. They overrode The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which stipulates the proper processes necessary in the determinations of such a land transferal's potential impact on the environment, archaeological and historic sites. Of particular sensitivity in the NEPA are places sacred to Native Americans, like the ancestral ceremonial lands that are so cavalierly and rashly being treated through this federal land-swap deal, manipulated with all the cunning of a Charles Dickens' villainous master thief.

Plans to create underground copper mining operatives in this region have been ongoing for years. Between 2005 and 2011, bills proposing such endeavors "died in committee five times in the House of Representatives and six times in the Senate, says David Lindsay, SAA's government affairs manager, who tracks legislation for the organization. Those bills faced determined opposition from Native American tribes. Attaching the land exchange rider to the defense spending bill is a way to circumvent that opposition, says Michael Nixon, an environmental lawyer who works with the Maricopa Audubon Society and has fought the land exchange since the beginning. 'Stuffing riders into... bills that are not germane to the subject is undemocratic,' he says," according to the website Science Insider

And House Republicans blasted MIT's Gruber for creating confused, convoluted, and deliberately indecipherable legalese? And lambasted Gruber for using such insulting language to describe Americans? How's about what Gosar said about America's First Nations residents? What liars and con-men McCain and Gosar are showing themselves to be - stuffing a land-swap trade into a tome of a defense bill!

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Samuel Vargo worked as a full-time reporter and editor for more than 20 years at a number of daily newspapers and business journals. He was also an adjunct English professor at colleges and universities in Ohio, West Virginia, Mississippi (more...)

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