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As the Nation's Attention is Focused on Kavanaugh Trump Administration Takes a Swipe at Gays and

One of the ongoing strategies of the Trump Administration is to use the chaos of the 24-hour news cycle to slip new rules and regulations past the public. Over the last few weeks much of America has been transfixed by the Kavanaugh nomination so administration officials took the opportunity to make some changes to rules impacting gay diplomats and wildlife protection.

NBC: "The State Department on Monday began imposing a new policy that restricts visas for the same-sex partners of staff of U.S.-based international organizations, such as the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund." ...

"The State Department’s website on G-4 visas currently states: “Effective immediately, U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate visa applications that are based on a same-sex marriage in the same way that we adjudicate applications for opposite gender spouses.”

The problem, of course, is that same-sex marriage is not recognized in much of the world and some nations still consider homosexual relationships to be a crime.

NBC: That means that U.N., World Bank, and IMF staff from countries that do not recognize same-sex marriage face a stark choice: enter a relationship that could result in prison time back home, or abandon their relationship for their career."

The change in policy will likely play well with Trump's base, but it is unnecessarily cruel and serves no legitimate public policy interest. And the same can be said of the Trump administration's decision to end an important wildlife refuge enforcement program.

The Hill: "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced to employees on Sept. 21 that refuge managers who were also trained to police the area would no longer be able to act in any enforcement capacity and would be stripped of their firearm, according to an internal FWS email shared with The Hill."

Critics of the new policy responded quickly, pointing out that it will mean less policing of America's wildlife refuges.

The Hill: “It means there will be lots of violations, wildlife violations as in over-bagged hunting areas, damaged fences, signs, roads and all kinds of damage to the environment. If there is no one there to enforce the law, that would spread like wildfire,” said Kim Hanson, who retired from FWS in 2008 after more than 30 years at the agency. “It’s an extreme disservice to the American people because they expect us to take care.”...

... “It doesn’t make any sense,” said Lloyd Jones, who retired from the FWS in 2013 after decades of working at multiple refuges across South Dakota as a dual-officer."

“The dual functions that have been there for decades have been extremely effective in compliance, and now it’s being taken off the table almost over night," Jones said."

The Trump administration promised to eventually hire 15 more officers to police the refuges, but opponents argue that is too few to make up for the loss of the dual-function officers, so, maybe reduced compliance with refuge regulations is exactly the point.

The Hill: "The move comes as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has increased access for more hunters and anglers across various wildlife refuges. In early September, he announced that 251,000 new acres on refuge lands would be open to hunting or fishing. By the 2018-2019 hunting season, 377 refuges will allow hunting and 312 will allow fishing."

#news #environment

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