Saturday, April 17, 2021

RANGE magazine has been reporting on the exploits of billionaire Hansjorg Wyss while mainstream media dozed

RANGE magazine has been warning readers about Hansjorg Wyss since 2014. A billionaire Swiss “philanthropist," Wyss puts his clout behind some of the most extreme groups and initiatives now hounding Western ranchers.

Although Wyss appears to have been largely unknown to the mainstream media until recently, RANGE magazine’s plucky investigative reporter, Dave Skinner, has written numerous articles, beginning in the Winter of 2014, tracking Wyss’ enormous donations and dubious activities.

Loyal RANGE readers will be alarmed that Wyss is currently poised to take the helm of one of the largest media organizations in the world. In an article dated March 27, the Chicago Tribune reports:

“An octogenarian Swiss billionaire who makes his home in Wyoming and has donated hundreds of millions to environmental causes is a surprise new player in the bidding for Tribune Publishing, the major newspaper chain that until recently seemed destined to end up in the hands of a New York hedge fund.

Hansj√∂rg Wyss (pronounced Hans-yorg Vees), the former CEO of medical device manufacturer Synthes, said in an interview Friday that he had agreed to join with Maryland hotelier Stewart W. Bainum Jr. in a bid for Tribune Publishing, an offer that could upend Alden Global Capital’s plan to take full ownership of the company.

Wyss, who has given away some of his fortune to help preserve wildlife habitats in Wyoming, Montana and Maine, said he was motivated to join the Tribune bid by his belief in the need for a robust press. 

‘I have an opportunity to do 500 times more than what I’m doing now,’ he said.'”

If Wyss becomes the owner of Tribune Publishing, doing “500 times more” than he is doing now portends badly for American ranchers, farmers, and small towns throughout the West.

Dave Skinner’s Winter 2014 article, “Patterns on the Landscape” revealed Wyss’ involvement with a number of anti-grazing, anti-resource development individuals and NGO’s working in concert to radically remake the West, including the now-defunct Western Progress, John Podesta’s Center for American Progress, the Soros-connected New Venture Fund and countless Democrat candidates. Skinner reports:

“Federal Elections Commission records show Wyss made about $38,000 in political contributions between 1998 and 2002, all to wilderness-friendly Democrats or PACs. However, as a Swiss citizen, Wyss cannot legally make direct political contributions to either parties, PACs or politicians without a green card and permanent U.S. residence. Today at age 78 and $12.4 billion net worth (according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index), Wyss is either Pennsylvania’s biggest billionaire, or Switzerland’s second biggest.”

Skinner continues:

“After Western Progress closed its doors, in 2009 the Wyss Foundation donated $400,000 to “public charity” CAP [Center for American Progress].

Alongside the CAP funding went an even $1 million to the Tides Foundation.

But there’s more. In 2011, the Hansjorg Wyss Foundation donated $1.325 million to CAP, and $1 million to New Venture Fund.”

Throughout his reporting on Wyss and other dark money types, Dave Skinner has made the case that massive funding and political activism, aka “astroturfing,” are driving the policies that are hurting Western agriculture and property rights. See “Identify Your Enemies” (Winter 2015).

“The Green Insiders” (Spring 2015) details Wyss’ entanglement in medical malpractice through his medical company, Synthes. Synthes was found to be responsible for deaths related to the off-label and experimental use of his products on patients. And there’s more, Skinner writes:

“In July, Washington Examiner reporter Richard Pollock found a mysterious line item in the disclosure forms for White House special adviser John Podesta: $87,000 in consulting from “HJW Foundation”—HJW being Mr. Wyss, of course. Bottom line: A small affair involving illegal human experimentation, deaths, federal prosecution, four jail sentences, and a fine of $23.8 million, as well as after-the-fact malpractice settlements.”

Subsequently, Johnson & Johnson purchased Synthes in a deal that produced “almost $10 billion in assets” for Wyss.

And, it turns out, the extremist Center for Biological Diversity is one of Wyss’ pet beneficiaries. Skinner reports:

“CBD director Kieran Suckling told the Inquirer that Hans Wyss ‘liked that we were both nimble and aggressive.’”

"Money Talks, Freedom Walks" (Summer 2015) connects the dots between Wyss, Bill Gates and a gaggle of NGO's bent on the destruction of Western resource development. Skinner gives an accounting of the astonishing donations Wyss has given to the likes of Trout Unlimited, Western Rivers, The Nature Conservancy and many others.

In “Hans-n-Harry’s Garden of Astroturf” (Fall 2015) Dave Skinner brought to light Wyss’ sizeable donations to national monuments campaigns in Nevada. Wyss’ generous “sprinkling” of dollars was used to create the illusion of popular support for national monument land grabs, where there was in fact significant grassroots opposition from the people of Nevada. 

In "Monumental Megabucks" (Winter 2017)Dave Skinner explored the machinations behind a political battle that, like a recurring nightmare, has returned to southeastern Utah in the form of a massive national monument. Biden recently reignited the war of “Bears Ears” with his promise not simply to “restore” it to Obama’s designation of 1.3 million acres, but to expand it to nearly 2 million acres—or more if the greens get their way. And Wyss has been in the fray all along. Skinner writes:

“Although you probably have never heard, seen or read of him, this man, Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, has done more to encourage the creation of new national monuments than any person on Earth. How? He opened his wallet, giving untold and mostly unknown millions to environmental groups for a spin campaign in support of President Obama’s use of the Antiquities Act.”

Philanthropist, zealot or monster? The deeper you dig into the mystique of Hansjorg Wyss, the more monstrous he appears. In May of 2018, Truth in media reported an incident that has been otherwise buried by mainstream media. It reads:

“Victim advocates are slamming Harvard University, the Clinton Foundation and John Podesta’s think-tank for their silence over an ongoing investigation by New Jersey prosecutors for the brutal sexual assault that a woman alleges was committed by their donor, Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss.


Wyss, who contributes millions to many high-profile liberal causes, is a financial donor to Harvard, the Clinton Foundation and Podesta’s Center for American Progress. Last fall, prosecutors in Morris Township, New Jersey, opened an investigation into an alleged brutal 2011 sexual assault of Jacqueline Long, then an employee of Wyss’ foundation.”

RANGE has taken great strides in warning the public about Hansjorg Wyss, his tainted activities, radical alliances, and intention to do “500 times more” than he has already done. Exposed by RANGE magazine’s deep diving reporter, Dave Skinner, this “green” Swiss billionaire is on the verge of becoming a media mogul with even greater power to “remake” America and the West. Now is the time for all who love the American Cowboy and the Western way of life, to sound their own alarms.

CJ Hadley
(800) 726-4348

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Friday, April 16, 2021

White House reverses course on refugee cap after Democratic eruption

The White House Friday reversed course on refugee admissions, after an earlier announcement maintaining a controversial Trump-era refugee cap was met with disdain by Democrats and immigration activists. Following a day of blowback from Democrats, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced Biden would set a new, higher ceiling in May after initially saying it would keep the current 15,000 limit. The initial decision had led to widespread complaints from Democratic lawmakers and groups representing refugees, who had already been urging Biden to lift the ceiling put in place by former President Trump. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who came to the United States as a refugee, called it "shameful." Psaki's statement late Friday attempted to walk back the controversial announcement. It said that Biden’s directive earlier Friday had been the subject of “some confusion,” and that while it would be difficult to meet Biden's goal of allowing 62,500 refugees into the country this year because of changes imposed by Trump, it would seek to announce a higher ceiling than 15,000 in May. “For the past few weeks, he has been consulting with his advisors to determine what number of refugees could realistically be admitted to the United States between now and October 1. Given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited, and burdens on the Office of Refugee Resettlement, his initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely,” Psaki said...MORE

Colorado ranchers fight ballot proposal they say would be devastating to ag industry

Saja Hindi

Colorado ranchers and farmers are fighting against a 2022 proposed ballot measure that they say is yet another attack on the state’s $47 billion agriculture industry.

Initiative 16, a section of which is referred to as “Wilbur’s Law,” adds livestock and fish to the state’s animal cruelty law and redefines what constitutes a “sexual act with an animal,” including practices often used in breeding and animal husbandry. It also requires that slaughtering of livestock only occur if an animal has lived a quarter of its natural lifespan — estimated at 20 years for a cow, for example — which would vastly change current practices, considering cattle are often butchered well before they turn 3.

The website for the ballot initiative, called Protect Animals from Unnecessary Suffering and Exploitation, or PAUSE, says it will extend animal welfare rights to all farm animals and that there is “no rational reason to exempt farmed animals from basic abuse laws that currently exist to protect our pets.”

“After seeing with our own eyes, thousands of chickens on a Colorado organic free range farm left without food and severely abused, we knew there was a discrepancy between the public image and the reality of some farms,” the PAUSE website said.

The two designated representatives of the initiative, Alexander Sage of Broomfield and Brent Johannes of Boulder, did not return The Post’s multiple requests for comment. They would have to gather 124,632 valid voter signatures to get it on the November 2022 ballot.

A coalition of livestock and farming groups called Coloradans for Animal Care opposes the possible ballot measure and challenged the decisions of the state’s Title Board with the state Supreme Court on Wednesday. The coalition believes the title includes “political catchphrases” meant to sway voters. Its members also argue that the proposal deals with at least two subjects when ballot measures can only have one, and that the Title Board’s rules are misleading.

Carlyle Currier, a rancher from Molina and president of the Colorado Farm Bureau, said it simply on the coalition’s website: It’s the “most radical and extreme ballot initiative Colorado has ever seen.” Already, Logan County commissioners signed a resolution opposing the initiative, according to the Sterling-Journal Advocate.

Colorado Livestock Association CEO Bill Hammerich said not only would it hurt the state’s agriculture industry, it’d affect meat and meat product exports, which make up nearly 14% of Colorado’s exports.

“Talk about devastation,” Hammerich said. “Our rural communities would be totally devastated by this.” He added that the Front Range communities would also feel the effects in the long run, because they wouldn’t be able to get local meat.

Specialty producer Jennifer Melichar, who owns Boulder Beef and ranches in La Salle and Longmont, said the slaughtering age restriction is particularly harmful. It’s not financially feasible to feed cows for that long, said Melichar, who generally processes her animals at 18 months.

Not to mention, she added, if ranchers wait that long to process meat, it’ll be tough and flavorless, and consumers would see more fat in the meat. Melichar castrates the steers on her ranch at birth to keep the meat tender, which she said would also be prohibited.

Worker safety is another concern, said northeastern Colorado dairy farmer Mary Kraft. Her farmhands artificially inseminate cows — which would be against the law if the ballot measure passes. Doing so eliminates the need for herd bulls, which are notoriously dangerous, she said, and keeps the cows producing milk.

...The Colorado Veterinary Medical Association is also against the measure, writing that it would have “significant, extremely negative impacts on Colorado’s animals, their owners and the veterinary profession.”

“Every veterinarian takes an oath to protect animal health and welfare, prevent and relieve animal suffering, promote public health, and advance medical knowledge,” it said. “Initiative 16 threatens all of those commitments.”

The group worries that veterinarians will face animal cruelty charges for performing routine procedures like spaying and neutering if the measure is passed as written. PAUSE supporters do not believe this is the case, according to the FAQ on their website.


Border-jumping 'gotaways' spike 156% from last year

Illegal immigrants are escaping capture at more than double the pace of a year ago, according to Texas figures that show the surge of migrants being caught at the border is just a part of the problem the Biden administration is facing. The Texas Department of Public Safety, which runs its own camera system under Operation Drawbridge to track illegal entries, shows nearly 21,904 migrants who evaded capture from January through April 7, according to data shared with The Washington Times. That is up from 8,561 “gotaways,” as they are known, during the same period in 2020, which works out to a 156% increase. Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez in Val Verde County, along the Rio Grande, said that number is likely too low. “People are coming in by the droves,” he said. While most of the attention at the border right now is on unaccompanied juveniles, law enforcement officials say the more worrying aspect for border security is the people who aren’t being apprehended at the line. Law enforcement at some parts of the border report an increase in dangerous encounters with migrants who, rather than flee or give up, are willing to fight. In Texas, the Cotulla Independent School District sent a letter April 1 warning parents to be wary while their children walk home from school or play outside their homes. La Salle County, where Cotulla is located, has eight to 10 car chases a day, and many of those result in bailouts as migrants and smugglers ditch their cars and flee through neighborhoods, the school system told parents. Chases at speeds topping 100 mph have increased along the border, as have accidents involving smuggling attempts. Two mass-casualty events have occurred in the past couple of months. One smuggling crash killed 13 in California, and another killed eight in Texas. Residents across the border tell visitors that they have never before seen such a situation...One indication of the gotaways is how often migrants are trying again. The Border Patrol reported a 22% recidivism rate in March. In 2018, the recidivism rate for the entire year — meaning the same person was caught more than once in a 12-month period — was 11%. It was just 7% in 2019...Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, said the estimate for gotaways was 24,000 in February and 37,000 in March. Those were just the ones agents know about. He said the smugglers know agents are swamped by dealing with the families and unaccompanied juveniles. Some of the network of highway checkpoints, which used to act as a second sort of virtual border, are shut down because the agents have been redeployed to caretaking duties for the families and children. It’s part of a broader problem of the smugglers dictating the terms of the border. They send across families and children knowing it will overwhelm agents, taking them out of play as more high-risk smuggling ventures, such as drugs or migrants who don’t want to be caught, are pulled through the border elsewhere. “These are the individuals that the cartels are working very hard to evade apprehension,” Mr. Judd said. “That should be scary to anybody, that there were 61,000 in the last two months that we don’t know who they are, we don’t know where they came from, we don’t know their intentions in this country. We’re so tied up with unaccompanied children, family units, that the more dangerous ones are getting away.”...MORE

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Wildlife is in peril, but that doesn’t mean conservation has failed

Benji Jones 

This story is part of Down to Earth, a new Vox reporting initiative on the science, politics, and economics of the biodiversity crisis.

You don’t have to look far to find signs that wildlife is in peril. And most of the news stories about it these days follow a predictable formula: Species are going extinct and, in most cases, humans are to blame.

To be clear, that’s true, and there’s every reason to be alarmed. A report from September, for example, found that the populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish have declined by almost 70 percent, on average, since 1970. Another finds that 1 million species are threatened with extinction.

But what those stunning numbers — and the headlines they inspire — tend to obscure is the more hopeful stories of success in conservation. Though they may be harder to find, there are many.

“It’s easy to forget that the world we live in is far richer thanks to those who found convincing reasons, and the required means, to provide sanctuary to other species,” environmental journalist Michelle Nijhuis writes in Beloved Beastsa new book that chronicles the history of the modern conservation movement. “Without their work, there would likely be no bison, no tigers, and no elephants; there would be few if any whales, wolves, or egrets.”

As an environmental reporter myself, I am generally skeptical about this. The data alone tells a depressing story that so easily overshadows blips of success. But as Nijhuis argues in her book, there’s still hope — and she does a good job in documenting the reasons for it.


New NMSU Rodeo Coach


Dr. Donald Conner announced yesterday that Brice Baggarley has accepted the offer to be the next rodeo coach at NMSU. He will start on May 3.

Brice competed on the NMSU rodeo team and from August of 2013 till May of 2015 was the assistant rodeo coach under Jim Dewey Brown.

Welcome aboard Brice! We all look forward to working with you and helping any way we can.

I must say that NMSU must come up with a better, more flexible procedure for hiring a rodeo coach. When Jim Dewey Brown left, the team was left without a coach for the fall semester. Logan Corbett's resignation was affective on May 1, 2020. Here we are a full year later before a new coach takes over. This selection was complicated by some legislative language and COVID-19, but that is no excuse for taking 12 months to fill this position. The Athletic Department has special provisions in the personnel code for hiring coaches and ACES deserves the same. I guarantee you if this had been a basketball coach, the long delay would not have occurred. The system may be fine for hiring a professor or regular staff, but does not give us the tools and options needed to hire a rodeo coach. The students and their parents deserve better.