Community Rights Ballot Initiative Coming Back in 2016

Screen shot 2015-08-19 at 12.12.12 PMColoradans for Community Rights (CCR) is gearing up to once again put a Community Rights initiative on the 2016 state-wide ballot.

A Community Rights amendment doesn’t ban anything. Instead, the measure establishes that communities in Colorado have a definitive right to local self-government. That is, the new law would give people, not corporations, the dominant authority to decide how to best protect health, safety and welfare in their own communities and surrounding natural environments. Basically, the measure would allow communities to decide, free from corporate or state interference, whether to allow corporate projects that could negatively impact their safe and healthy environments.

What does this measure mean to citizens on the western slope?

The Community Rights Amendment would, for example, give Mesa County residents living around Alanco’s stinky Deer Creek frackwater ponds the right to disallow this land use in their area. It would also give Paonia residents the right to keep drilling and fracking activities away from their schools, residential areas and organic farming districts. Corporations and their trade groups could no longer sue communities over decisions to keep dangerous or noxious industrial activities out of their area. The amendment would also prevent corporations from suing communities that vote to enact living wages, or ban GMOs (genetically modified organisms), for example.

On August 17, CCR submitted the official ballot language for the 2016 Colorado Community Rights Amendment to the Colorado Legislative Council. The ballot measure is very short, only about 200 words. After the ballot language is approved, CCR will organize a state-wide campaign to gather the number of signatures necessary to qualify the measure for the November 2016 statewide ballot.

CCR tried to get a Community Rights measure on the 2014 statewide ballot, but legal challenges by corporations opposed to the measure succeeded in delaying the signature-gathering phase of the effort until it was too late. This time, CCR has started work early enough that they will have a better shot at getting the measure on the ballot and passing it.

Efforts to pass Community Rights Initiatives are also ongoing in New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington.

U.S. Military Members Under Pervasive Pressure from Christian Evangelists

Few people are aware of the extent of the fundamentalist Christian programs now going on in the U.S. Military aimed at turning our country’s Military into a global Christian mission for Jesus Christ.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), based in Albuquerque, New Mexico has working for years to draw attention to this situation. Mikey Weinstein, the head of MRFF, says these religious efforts constitute a “systematic program of indoctrination sanctioned, coordinated, and carried out by fundamentalist Christians within the U. S. military.” He writes that Christian programs in the military “[represent] a bona fide national security crisis” that is ongoing “throughout the entirety of the United States Air Force in particular, and the U.S. Armed Forces as a whole, whereby unchecked evangelizing activity is carried out on Uncle Sam’s time and the taxpayer’s dime.”

A shocking YouTube compilation of clips contains clips of videos created by the many parachurch groups that operate freely within the U.S. military shows military chaplains and fundamentalist preachers stating openly that they consider the military a hunting ground to recruit followers for Jesus Christ. They refer to military recruits as a “ripe harvest field,” and say the military offers them a “unique opportunity for a gateway ministry.”

Major General (Ret.) Bob Dees, Executive Dire actor of the Campus Crusade for Christ International’s Military Ministry, states, “The first strategic objective is to evangelize and disciple the enlisted members of the enlisted Air Force.”

Footage taken by AlJazeera shows Lt. Colonel Gary Hensley, the Army Command Chaplain in Afghanistan (the chief of all of the Army chaplains in Afghanistan) telling members of the military that they need to go on a recruiting drive for Christ. “Hunt ’em down and get ’em in the Kingdom, that’s what we do, that’s our business,” Hensley says.

A representative of the military branch of Campus Crusade for Christ states,

“Our purpose for Campus Crusade for Christ at the Air Force Academy is to make Jesus Christ the issue at the Air Force Academy and around the world, and I think that we’re seeing God do that. We’re seeing kids come to Christ, being built up in their faith and being sent out to reach the world. They’re government-paid missionaries when they leave here.”

All activities shown in the video are currently ongoing in the U.S. Military and are open violations of U.S. law. The rules regulating Air Force culture, Air Force Instruction 1-1 (pdf), state that “Every Airman is free to practice the religion of their choice or subscribe to no religious belief at all.” The regulations mandate that

…Leaders at all levels must balance constitutional protections for their own free exercise of religion, including individual expressions of religious beliefs, and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. They must ensure their words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing or disapproving of, or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief, or absence of belief.

The activities shown in the video are shocking and need to be seen to be believed. You can support the efforts of MRFF here, or write to your own elected officials and express your opinion about this blatant violation of service members’ rights, Air Force rules and the U.S. Constitution.

Wonderful Indian, Tibetan and Nepalese Restaurant on Orchard Mesa

Namaste Nepal, one of the terrific new restaurants in Grand Junction that add diversity to the cuisine available in town now

Namaste Nepal, one of the terrific new restaurants in Grand Junction that add diversity to the cuisine available in town now

Calling all local food lovers: If you haven’t tried this place yet, you should: Namaste Nepal is a new Indian, Tibetan and Nepalese cuisine place on Orchard Mesa, in the strip mall just west of the True Value Hardware. It just opened in early spring, 2015. The food is absolutely delicious, the prep extremely quick, and the owners are extremely gracious, kind and accommodating. They have a lunch buffet, too. Some of our favorite dishes so far include the lamb boti saag (lamb cubes in a creamed spinach sauce), the shrimp pakora appetizer (shrimp dipped in a garbanzo bean flour batter and deep fried), vegetable samosas (a savory pastry stuffed with lightly spiced peas and potatoes), and the onion kulcha (Indian tandoori oven bread stuffed with onions and fresh cilantro). Namaste Nepal is super-fast for take-out, invariably having orders ready in just 5-10 minutes. Easy parking right in front, too. They recently acquired some new patio furniture so you can eat outside. It’s very quick to get there from the east or west sides of town using the Riverside Parkway. To see their menu, click here. 

New Change.org Petition Seeks to End the Ban on Marijuana Cultivation and Sales in Grand Junction

It was a long time in coming, but a Grand Junction resident named Derrick Sorg has finally started a Change.org petition to end the ban on cannabis cultivation and retail sales in Grand Junction.

Sorg says lifting the ban on marijuana commerce will finally create more jobs in our area and bring in more tax revenue for schools. Sorg says if he gets enough support for his online petition, he will initiate an official City petition to get a measure to legalize pot cultivation and sales on the local ballot. The Colorado Department of Revenue reports steadily increasing taxes being collected from marijuana sales. Many Grand Junction area residents see high-paying jobs being created across the state and watch as other towns rake in significant revenue from the new marijuana economy, and feel our town is being left far behind.

 

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KKCO 11 News broadcast information about Sorg’s petition on the evening news tonight. The petition currently has 148 signatures, and the number is increasing. See and sign the petition here.

Enigmatic Redlands Hill Continues to Speak to the Neighborhood

The mystery remains about who has been sending huge, cryptic messages using this hill on the Redlands for years now, and why

The mystery remains about who has been writing huge, cryptic messages using this hill on the Redlands for years now, and what drives him or her to do it

Back in December, 2014, I talked about the Mysterious Talking Hill Off South Camp Road. For years now, someone has regularly been climbing up this hill and scratching brief, huge messages into the green bentonite. The letters are probably at least 10-12 feet high. The writer changes the messages every other week or so. This task is far more challenging than using Twitter, which limits messages to 140 characters. The messages scratched into this hill are almost never more than four letters, tops. Repeatedly climbing up the crumbling scree to “erase” the old message and scratch in a new one can’t be easy, but some unknown person has been driven to do it frequently for at least six years now.

Sometimes the messages make sense. For example, around Mother’s Day it may say “MOM.” Near the end of December it may say “XMAS.” In May of 2014, when Google Street View caught a photo of the enigmatic hill, it said “USA.”

Mysterious talking hill of South Camp Road

Google Street View captured the hill in May of 2014, when it said “USA.”

Yesterday the hill said “TREK.”

Why?

We don’t know.

Maybe it had to do with the recent article in the Daily Sentinel about Jamie Bianchini, the man who went on an 8 year bicycle ride through 80 countries — an extended TREK. Or maybe the writer simply bought a new Trek bicycle and was glad as hell about it.

Here’s how to see the Talking Redlands Hill:

Take Broadway out towards the Redlands. Turn left at Monument Road, where the “W” gas station is. (Stop at the fabulous Trailhead Coffee House for Coffee if you have time). Continue on Monument Road toward the Colorado National Monument. When you get to South Camp Road, turn right and go a couple hundred feet to the dirt pullout directly opposite East Fallen Rock Road. There’s a big green electrical box there. Park and look for the dirt road heading generally northwest from the pullout, then look up at the Morrison formation hills just above it. Look a little to the right at a lower green bentonite hill lying between the two rock-covered peaks, as seen in the photo at the top of this article. See what it says and report back! And if you know who’s doing the writing, please do tell!

 

“El M7 Mariscos y Mas” is the New Hit of North Avenue

El M7 Mariscos y Mas food truck at 2856 North Ave., just east of Maxim Motors, is open  Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

El M7 Mariscos y Mas food truck at 2856 North Ave., just east of Maxim Motors, is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

There’s a terrific new food truck in town, “El M7 Mariscos Y Mas” (“El M7 Seafood and More”) that’s camped out at 2856 North Ave., between Maxim Motors and the LeMaster Motel & Trailer Park. This terrific little place is the best thing to happen to North Avenue in a long time. El M7 specializes in mariscos, or seafood and offers deliciously different Mexican dishes like shrimp ceviche, fish tostadas, crab tostadas, fish tacos, shrimp quesadillas and burritos. They also have some larger and more awesome sounding dishes like Aguachile Camarones Ahogados (raw shrimp cooked in lime juice topped with onions and avocado slices, seasoned with salt and pepper). As a “barometer dish,” I ordered the shrimp ceviche to go. It cost $10 even. For that I got a big, 16-oz container of ceviche, a good supply of tortilla chips chips and crackers, one little container with fresh lime slices and another with a red, piquant-tasting spicy mariscos sauce, a napkin and some ketchup.

Take-out ceviche provided TWO of these bowls full of ceviche. It was delicious.

Take-out ceviche from El M7 provided TWO of these bowls full of ceviche. It was delicious.

The ceviche was truly perfect. PERFECT. Many times, especially in landlocked Grand Junction, if you can even find ceviche on a menu, it’s too fishy, or it’s made too salty, too tart or too vinegar-y. But not here. M7 really knows what they are doing and they absolutely NAILED this ceviche. It was truly delicious. The serving size was generous, too, enough for TWO of the bowls seen in the accompanying photo. They got the meal ready super-fast after ordering, too. This place really deserves your business. We are so lucky they are here!