Ammon Bundy once sought aid from the very federal government he is now decrying as tyrannical in the armed occupation of a national wildlife preserve in Oregon. Back in 2010 — roughly five years before Bundy headed up protests against the prosecution of two local ranchers and the federal government's land use at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge — Bundy received a federal small-business loan, Mother Jones reports:
Ammon Bundy runs a Phoenix-based company called Valet Fleet Services LLC, which specializes in repairing and maintaining fleets of semitrucks throughout Arizona. On April 15, 2010 — Tax Day, as it happens — Bundy's business borrowed $530,000 through a Small Business Administration loan guarantee program. The available public record does not indicate what the loan was used for or whether it was repaid. The SBA website notes that this loan guarantee was issued under a program "to aid small businesses which are unable to obtain financing in the private credit marketplace." The government estimated that this subsidy could cost taxpayers $22,419. Bundy did not respond to an email request for comment about the SBA loan. [Mother Jones]
By Dec. 30, 2015, however, that helping hand seemed to be forgotten. Bundy slammed the federal government in a Facebook post, saying it has "adversely stolen the lands and resources from the people, destroyed thousands of jobs, and the economy of an entire county."
Bundy has yet to comment on his federal loan. Becca Stanek
The rebels who hold the besieged eastern half of Aleppo, Syria, have lost more than half of the territory they once controlled to forces loyal to the Bashar al Assad regime and its Russian allies. In the face of these regime advances, the opposition groups have been quietly negotiating with Russia in neighboring Turkey, so far with little effect.
On Saturday, Moscow announced it is ready to deal with the United States, which backs some of the militants fighting Assad, to arrange a full withdrawal of Syrian rebel forces from Aleppo. "We are immediately ready to send out military experts, diplomats to Geneva in order to agree mutual actions with our American colleagues to ensure the pullout of all the rebels without exclusion from eastern Aleppo," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Rebel leaders in Aleppo have reportedly sworn they will not leave the city, and Washington has yet to respond to Moscow's invitation to talks. Bonnie Kristian
A new species of arapaima — a giant freshwater fish capable of breathing air with rudimentary lungs — has been found in the remote reaches of the Amazon River, and more distinct arapaima species may be discovered soon.
Capable of growing to 10 feet long and weighing upwards of 400 pounds, the heavily-armored fish lives in oxygen-poor waters and surfaces to breathe. The arapaima is difficult to catch and study and is also endangered, which is why species classification is so important: Only about 5,000 of the fish still live in the wild.
It is "hard to argue for conservation if you don't know it's there," explains Donald J. Stewart, a New York biology professor and National Geographic explorer whose team identified the new species. "The more of these we can recognize the more arguments we can make for getting the resources to protect them." Stewart expects "we'll have many more species before we're done" examining the arapaima's river climes. Bonnie Kristian
Ford Motor Company could be persuaded to halt outsourcing plans and keep manufacturing jobs here in the United States, executives indicated in interviews with Bloomberg and the Detroit Free Press on Friday. But if President-elect Donald Trump hopes to replicate his deal with Carrier, an air conditioning manufacturer that wanted to move some 2,100 jobs from Indiana to Mexico, he'll have to pony to Ford's demands.
"We will be very clear in the things we'd like to see," said Mark Fields, Ford's chief executive officer, to Bloomberg. High on his list are tax reform, free trade rules, and a relaxation of fuel economy regulations that have automakers producing more electric vehicles than they can sell. Fields argued Ford's position is not identical to Carrier's, as the automaker is repurposing its factories to build other models when it shifts some models' production abroad.
At the Detroit Free Press, Ford Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks acknowledged that a call from the president-elect did influence Ford's recent decision to keep making a Lincoln SUV model in Kentucky. Shanks expressed hope that going forward, "there some adjustment that can be made to the present regulatory framework that recognizes the market realities."
At least nine people were killed and 25 more are missing after a massive fire broke out in a warehouse hosting a dance party Friday night in Oakland, California. The fire started around 11:30 p.m. and may be the deadliest blaze in city history. The building had no sprinkler system and smoke detectors did not activate, firefighters said.
— Oakland Firefighters (@OaklandFireLive) December 3, 2016
"It was too hot, too much smoke, I had to get out of there," said Bob Mule, a photographer who escaped the fire with minor burns. "I literally felt my skin peeling and my lungs being suffocated by smoke. I couldn't get the fire extinguisher to work."
More than 50 Oakland firefighters worked through the night to get the fire under control, and arson investigators have been called to the scene. Bonnie Kristian
About 2,000 U.S. military veterans calling themselves Veterans Stand for Standing Rock have amassed at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, and hundreds more are expected to arrive this weekend. The veterans are building barracks for protesters to use as shelter from the frigid North Dakota winter and are volunteering to temporarily stand in for long-time protesters who need a break.
— VICE News (@vicenews) December 3, 2016
"We want to offer them a moment of peace and, if we can, take a little bit of pressure off," said Coast Guard veteran Ashleigh Jennifer Parker, labeling the militarized police response "unconstitutional." "People are being brutalized; concussion grenades are being thrown into crowds," she said. "They're spraying people, even old women, and other elders of the tribe with tear gas and pepper spray."
The veterans plan to stay at least through Dec. 7, though some may stick around longer. Bonnie Kristian
China on Saturday lodged its expected objections to President-elect Donald Trump's acceptance of a phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in a sharp break with diplomatic habit. American and Taiwanese leaders are last known to have spoken directly in 1979 as the United States does not formally recognize Taiwan as an independent nation, separate from China.
"We have noticed relevant reports and lodged solemn representation with the relevant side in the United States," said a representative from China's Foreign Ministry. "The 'one China' principle is the political foundation of China-US relations." Earlier comments from Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi place the blame squarely on "petty" Taiwan.
Trump on Twitter defended the call, noting that he did not initiate it and suggesting it is hypocritical to avoid normal diplomatic relations with Taiwan given American weapon sales to the island. "Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment," he said, "but I should not accept a congratulatory call." Bonnie Kristian
President-elect Donald Trump endorsed the Philippines' controversial drug war tactics, claimed volatile Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday after a short phone call with Trump Friday night. "He was quite sensitive to our war on drugs and he wishes me well in my campaign and said that we are doing, as he so put it, 'the right way,'" Duterte said.
Since taking office, Duterte has launched a brutal attack on suspected drug dealers, encouraging extrajudicial killings by police and vigilantes alike. "My order is shoot to kill you," he infamously said of dealers. "I don't care about human rights, you'd better believe me." At least 2,400 people believed to be drug users and dealers were killed in the first two months of Duterte's administration.
Trump has yet to comment on Duterte's account of the conversation. Bonnie Kristian