Spring is coming early in 3/4 of national parks, according to a new study. Awesome? Not so much. As flowers bloom earlier every year, it’s disrupting the link between the wildflowers and the arrival of birds, bees, and butterflies that feed on and pollinate the flowers. In Shenandoah, an earlier spring is giving invasive plants a head start, and they’re displacing native wildflowers, leading to costly management issues.
Before the 1960s almost everything about living openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person was illegal. New York City laws against homosexual activities were particularly harsh. The Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969 is a milestone in the quest for LGBT civil rights and provided momentum for a movement.
Vine Creek Ranch at Death Valley National Park. Steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.
Located 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii, the National Park of American Samoa is the most remote unit of the National Park System and the U.S. National Park south of the Equator. The Park spreads across three islands, 9,500 acres of tropical rainforest, and 4,000 acres of ocean, including coral reefs. While remote, the islands of American Samoa, true to the meaning of the word Samoa (Islands of Sacred Earth), are welcoming and offer beautiful landscapes and centuries of culture and history.
President Obama signed Executive Order 13490 on January 21, 2009, requiring every full-time, political appointee appointed on or after January 20, 2009, to sign an ethics pledge upon accepting the political appointment. In general, appointees commit to:
not accepting gifts or gratuities from registered lobbyists or lobbying organizations (subject to a limited number of the exceptions provided in the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) Standards of Ethical Conduct, as well as other exceptions that OGE may authorize in the future for situations that do not implicate the purpose of the gift ban);
recuse for two years from any particular matter involving specific parties in which a former employer or client is or represents a party, if the appointee served that employer or client during the two years prior to the appointment;
if the appointee was a registered lobbyist during the prior two years,
recused, for two years after appointment, from any particular matter on which he or she lobbied during the two years prior to appointment (or any particular matter that falls within the same specific issue area)
not seek or accept employment with an agency or department that he or she lobbied during the prior two years
if the appointee is subject to the senior employee post-employment restriction in 18 USC § 207(c), to abide by such restriction for two years after termination of the appointment;
not to lobby any covered executive branch official (as described in the Lobbying Disclosure Act) or any noncareer SES appointee for as long as President Obama is in office;
agree that any hiring or other employment decisions will be based on the candidate's qualifications, competence and experience.
Section 3 of the Executive Order provides a waiver mechanism for any of the restrictions contained in the Pledge. The waiver must come from the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (or designee), in consultation with the White House Counsel (or designee). The Executive Order also provides for enforcement of the Pledge through civil action by the Attorney General. Moreover, the Order provides for agency debarment proceedings against former appointees found to have violated the Pledge, pursuant to debarment procedures established by each agency in consultation with OGE.
The Departmental Ethics Office works closely with the Department's political appointees to review the pledge, obtain the appointee's signature, and advise the appointees on how the pledge may affect their official duties.