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Gagging The First Amendment

As I share my thoughts in this issue of The Contributor, I do so with slight confusion as to what is going on, both nationally and here in my hometown. It’s in such disarray that we need to unite and confront before the unwanted infection can spread any further. I can say this without hesitation as it is my Constitutional Right.

The First Amendment The First Amendment, which was adopted in 1791, reads as follows:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Obviously our newly elected President, Donald Trump, didn’t take the time to read this before he strutted into office with his uncontained glow of ego and put a gag order on several government agencies. They were barred from making any statements or providing any documents to the public and journalists, which included social media. This comes from our “Twittter-in-Chief,” as John Paravicini referred to him in his column, Free Rein. If the First Amendment were to be ignored, then it should be our President that is gagged from his Twittter account.

Dakota Access Pipeline

In the first edition of The Contributor, I wrote about the Dakota Access Pipeline and the human rights violations that are ongoing there. The Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit for the construction of a key section of the Dakota Access Pipeline. This decision essentially halted the construction on the 1,172-mile oil pipeline located about half a mile south of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. What concerns me, though this editorial piece is about human rights violations, is that has the pipeline really stopped? We are still within the Obama administration. What needs to be recognized is that the Dakota Access LLC, is a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), which owns the largest and most diversified energy assets in the United States. ETP now has a “Trump card” moving into the White House. Donald Trump’s financial disclosure forms show he invested in Energy Transfer Partners, and its CEO, Kelcy Warren donated to Trump’s campaign. Trump is therefore indirectly linked to Dakota Access, a $3.8 billion dollar pipeline development that will funnel oil from North Dakota to Illinois. President Elect Donald Trump has always been verbally free with his support of the Dakota Pipeline. In the first days of Trump taking office, he signed permits unblocking the Dakota Access Pipeline project with the condition that they have to use American pipe and products. What about the people of Standing Rock that oppose this? Seems like he forgot the others sitting at the table when he gave the biggest slice of the pie to his buddy, CEO, Kelcy Warren. Did he perhaps pay back some campaign promises? When the Army Corps of Engineers stopped the pipeline in the beginning of winter it seemed to me that it was an easy way of giving everyone a winter reprieve to be at home with their families for Christmas. It gave time for the brutal North Dakota winters to pass but most importantly, it gave time for Trump to waltz into the Oval Office. This didn’t give any type of relief to the Americans that are still in North Dakota protesting what is happening. They are still at Standing Rock enduring harsh winter storms. Our new, uncompassionate or non-caring Administration didn’t even send a little firewood for a little Christmas warmth. Whichever pipe you’re behind, the oil pipe, or the sacred pipe of our native people, this situation, this peaceful situation, is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. I fear for what is going to happen to the Americans that are defending our First Amendment rights. As violence begets violence, the security force as well as the law agencies that are deployed could be revisiting on an old trail, a Trail of Tears.

Great Wall of Mexico

In January, President Trump ordered construction on the Great Wall of Mexico, a wall that has already been started, but now he boldly proclaims that Mexico was going to pay for the remainder, at a cost of $12- billion to $20-billion dollars. This proclamation quickly ignited Twitter war, from the former President of Mexico, Vicente Fox Quesada, as he fired back in his Twitter account, “TRUMP, when will you understand that I am not paying for that fucken wall. Be clear with US tax payers. They will pay for it.” Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto also assured his nation they would not be footing the bill for Trump’s wall. “It is evident that we have some differences with the new government of the United States, like the topic of the wall, that Mexico of course will not pay.” Now Trump is fumbling and saying that Congress will pay for it, but Mexico will reimburse the United States, but also adds that it is going to be complicated how they will. What if they don’t? Will DefCon Dom start a neighbor feud, or worse engage in some type of military action? Remember people of America; he has his tiny hands on the button. What’s next I wonder? Should American men beware? What if Trump follows the lead of North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un and orders all American men to copy his hairstyle. I am frightened and worried about what collateral damage is going to spread from this fascist being the President of the United States. I am a frequent traveler to foreign countries and after this immigration ban, I worry about being profiled as an American citizen that is keeping a monster in the Oval Office. Americans have already been categorized as boisterous and rude in the eyes of many countries. The Ugly American, in my eyes, just got uglier.

Now For our Local Anecdote

Locally, the mayor of Pinedale, Wyoming, Bob Jones, has also reached over the top of the First Amendment as if he was stretching for the last dinner roll at a county picnic. He too has given a gag order to all city employees to not speak with the press. Here, in our small little sleepy settlement, we find another self-proclaimed monarch that has adopted the czar mentality of a dictator. As he flounders with the laws and by-laws of a small western town, he seemingly doesn’t even find satisfaction in the position that he holds. Possibly, in the belch from a gluttonous bite for power, a false sense of power for ruling the town, it is possible that he wanted to rule Sublette County as well. When the former County Sheriff, Stephen Haskell was arrested, thrown into jail and removed from office, Bob Jones quickly threw his name in the mix, chanting, “Pick Me, Pick Me,” as he too wanted to become the next County Sheriff. Luckily for all the county residents, this authoritarian was not allowed in. But the town’s people are still living with the actions of a want-to-be dictator that puts his wants and ways above that of the people of Pinedale.

Get The Lead Out

In 2015, Pinedale stopped the sodium silicate water treatment, which helps prevent lead contamination in old plumbing. The next year dangerous levels of lead were found in the town’s water, including the school. EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agree that there is no known safe level of lead in a child’s blood. Lead is harmful to health, especially for children. Young children, infants, and fetuses are particularly vulnerable to lead because the physical and behavioral effects of lead occur at lower exposure levels in children than in adults. A dose of lead that would have little effect on an adult can have a significant effect on a child. In children, low levels of exposure have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells. Even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in: • Behavior and learning problems • Lower IQ and hyperactivity • Slowed growth • Hearing problems • Anemia • In rare cases, ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma and even death. Pregnant Women Lead can accumulate in our bodies over time, where it is stored in bones along with calcium. During pregnancy, lead is released from bones as maternal calcium and is used to help form the bones of the fetus. This is particularly true if a woman does not have enough dietary calcium. Lead can also cross the placental barrier exposing the fetus to lead. This can result in serious effects to the mother and her developing fetus, including:

• Reduced growth of the fetus • Premature birth

Although the treatment has been turned back on, the residents of Pinedale want to know why it was shut off in the first place. Pinedale Town Councilman Tyler Swafford not only wanted to know why the sodium silicate was shut off, but also wanted an investigation for accountability as well as responsibility. Mayor Bob Jones took responsibility for the decision, stopping a third-party investigation. What is ironic is that in multiple town council meetings Jones stated the decision to stop the sodium silicate was a collective decision made with other public works employees, though he is the Director. When Bob Jones took office in 2014, he appointed himself to the position of Public Works Director, which is completely out of the norm, unless you have an uncontrollable power fetish. Mayor Bob Jones took responsibility, but not accountability. What he did was blatantly wrong and we may not know the results of his actions for years. With his confession of endangering the residents of Pinedale, he should be completely held responsible and step down. With this gross violation he’s either willingly or stupidly reflected just what his care and compassion for the people of Pinedale truly is. Actions such as these are something that he also should be held accountable for. With his admission to guilt, will he be personally liable when the civil-suits begin to roll in? With all that is going on, the one thing that I will cautiously proclaim is that it is time to start stepping high and looking for solid ground, as the water is rising. The floodgates of chaos are breaking open and we as a global population are beginning the tumble towards anarchy.

- Dan Abernathy


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